Adrenocorticotropic hormone

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Adrenocorticotropic hormone


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Adrenocorticotropic hormone

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A group of investigators are studying the effect of exogenous steroid intake on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in mice. Which of the following changes will be observed in mice who are receiving exogenous cortisol administration?  

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Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)

adrenal cortex regulation of p. 332

adrenal insufficiency and p. 355

in Cushing syndrome p. 221, 354

secretion of p. 339

signaling pathways of p. 353

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Adrenocorticotropic hormone, also known as adrenocorticotropin, corticotropin, or simply ACTH, is a peptide hormone that helps regulate the release of hormones by the adrenal glands which sit above the kidneys. Secretion of ACTH is dependent on the hypothalamic-pituitary axis.

The hypothalamus, which is at the base of the brain, secretes corticotropin releasing hormone, or CRH, into the hypophyseal portal system - which is a network of capillaries linking the hypothalamus to the anterior part of the pituitary gland.

In the anterior pituitary, there are many different types of cells, each responsible for producing a type of hormone.

The corticotropin releasing hormone binds to a surface protein of one of these cell types, called corticotroph cells, and stimulates them to release ACTH.

Inside corticotroph cells, ACTH is synthesized from a large precursor molecule called pre- proopiomelanocortin, or pre- POMC.

Pre- proopiomelanocortin has a short tail called a leader or signal peptide which is cleaved off to form proopiomelanocortin, or POMC, and POMC is then split into multiple peptide hormones, and one of them is ACTH.

ACTH is then stored inside granules within the corticotroph cells, where it waits until it’s released into the blood.

Normally, ACTH is released in a pulsatile manner throughout the day and peaks in the morning around 6am but it is also secreted in response to various forms of stressful stimuli.

For example, the hypothalamus senses when there’s hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, and in response it secretes more corticotropin releasing hormone.

Another example, is during an infection, where pro-inflammatory cytokines, act on the hypothalamus and anterior pituitary to cause ACTH secretion.


Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) is a hormone that stimulates the adrenal cortex to produce cortisol. It is produced by the hypothalamus and released into the blood by the pituitary gland.

Adrenocorticotropic hormone is responsible for regulating many bodily functions, including stress response, energy balance, carbohydrate metabolism, and immune system activity. Too much or too little ACTH can have serious consequences for overall health.


  1. "Medical Physiology" Elsevier (2016)
  2. "Physiology" Elsevier (2017)
  3. "Human Anatomy & Physiology" Pearson (2018)
  4. "Principles of Anatomy and Physiology" Wiley (2014)
  5. "ACTH protects against glucocorticoid-induced osteonecrosis of bone" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2010)
  6. "ACTH Receptor (MC2R) Specificity: What Do We Know About Underlying Molecular Mechanisms?" Frontiers in Endocrinology (2017)
  7. "Glucocorticoids inhibit prostaglandin synthesis not only at the level of phospholipase A2 but also at the level of cyclo-oxygenase/PGE isomerase" British Journal of Pharmacology (1989)

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