Development of Pituitary Gland

The pituitary gland (hypophysis cerebri) is derived from 2 sources. The anterior lobe is an upgrowth of ectoderm from the roof of the stomodeum (primitive buccal cavity), while the posterior lobe is a down growth of neuroectoderm from the diencephalon.

pituitary gland development

4th week: a diverticulum,¬†Rathke’s pouch, grows upwards from the roof of the stomodeum towards the developing brain.

As the upgrowth contacts a downgrowth from the brain, the¬†infundibulum, Rathke’s stalk (connection between Rathke’s pouch and the Stomodeum) begin to degenerate.

By the 6th week: the¬†Rathke’s stalk¬†degenerates and Rathke’s pouch loses its connection with the stomodeum.

The cells of Rathke’s pouch proliferate to form the¬†pars distalis, and extend up the anterior aspect of the infundibulum as the¬†pars tuberalis. The posterior surface of Rathke’s pouch does not proliferate but forms the poorly developed¬†pars intermedia.

The infundibulum having grown down from the floor of the diencephalon, expands as the axons of cells in the diencephalon grow down into it.


Rathke’s pouch from stomodeum:¬†Pars distalis, Pars tuberalis, Pars intermedia

Infundibulum from diencephalon: Pars nervosa, Stalk (infundibulum)

Congenital Anomalies of Pituitary Gland:

  1. Craniopharyngioma: Failure of degeneration of Rathke’s stalk
  2. Pharyngeal pituitary: Failure of ascending of buccal pituitary
  3. Agenesis of pituitary

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