The pituitary gland has a role in puberty, reproduction, stress-adaptive responses, sodium and water balance, uterine contractions, lactation, thyroid function, growth, body composition and skin pigmentation. Ageing is marked by initially subtle erosion of physiological signalling mechanisms, resulting in lower incremental secretory-burst amplitude, more disorderly patterns of pituitary hormone release and blunted 24 h rhythmic secretion. Almost all pituitary hormones are altered by ageing in humans, often in a manner dependent on sex, body composition, stress, comorbidity, intercurrent illness, medication use, physical frailty, caloric intake, immune status, level of exercise, and neurocognitive decline. The aim of this article is to critically discuss the mechanisms mediating clinical facets of changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary axis during ageing, and the extent to which confounding factors operate to obscure ageing-related effects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism