Hyperthyroidism (cont.)

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Thyroid hormone regulation--the chain of command

The thyroid itself is regulated by another gland located in the brain, called the pituitary. In turn, the pituitary is regulated in part by thyroid hormone that is circulating in the blood (a "feedback" effect of thyroid hormone on the pituitary gland) and in part by another gland called the hypothalamus, also a part of the brain.

The hypothalamus releases a hormone called thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH), which sends a signal to the pituitary to release thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). In turn, TSH sends a signal to the thyroid to release thyroid hormones. If overactivity of any of these three glands occurs, an excessive amount of thyroid hormones can be produced, thereby resulting in hyperthyroidism.

Hypothalamus - TRH
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Pituitary- TSH
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Thyroid- T4 and T3


The rate of thyroid hormone production is controlled by the pituitary gland. If there is an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone circulating in the body to allow for normal functioning, the release of TSH is increased by the pituitary in an attempt to stimulate the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone. In contrast, when there is an excessive amount of circulating thyroid hormone, the release of TSH is reduced as the pituitary attempts to decrease the production of thyroid hormone.

Illustration of the Pituitary Gland


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