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Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), also known as corticotropin, is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland. It is often produced in response to biological stress.

It increases production of the stress hormone cortisol when physical or mental stress occurs [R].

ACTH is regulated by corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which is from the hypothalamus.

Benefits of ACTH

ACTH Prevents Cortisol Deficient-Related Diseases

Addison disease or primary adrenal insufficiency can be caused when there is not enough ACTH (R).

Secondary adrenal insufficiency causes severe fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness, irritability, and depression (R).

Pituitary insufficiency – the front of the pituitary gland stimulates ACTH production and so an insufficiency would lead to a consequential ACTH insufficiency (R). The hypothalamus controls the pituitary gland, which regulates ACTH production. An insufficiency limits ACTH production (R).

Defects in enzymes involved in cortisol synthesis prevents enough production of certain important hormones. In children, congenital adrenal hyperplasia (enlargement of the organ) regular formation of genital formation especially, can be stunted but can be treated with proper medication (R).


ACTH acts as an anti-inflammatory and decreases inflammatory cytokines (R).


ACTH also enhances transcription of mitochondrial genes that encode for subunits of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation systems.

These actions are probably necessary to supply the enhanced energy needs of adrenocortical cells stimulated by ACTH (R).


ACTH can help bone forming cells by increasing VEGF. This response might be important in maintaining osteoblast survival under some conditions (R).

If this is physiologically important, it probably functions in conditions with short-period or intermittent ACTH signaling, since with continual exposure of osteoblasts to ACTH, the effect was lost in a few hours.


ACTH has protective actions against heart disease, atherosclerosis, and stroke (R, R).

Drawbacks of ACTH

Too Much ACTH Causes Cushing Syndrome

Cushing syndrome causes swelling, thin skin, weight gain, fatigue, decreased libido, irregular menstruation, overgrowth of hair (R).

Cushing disease is caused by a benign tumor that causes the pituitary gland to produce too much ACTH, which causes overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal glands, and causes Cushing syndrome (R).

ACTH-producing tumor causes slightly less intense of symptoms as regular Cushing syndrome (R).

Ectopic CRH (corticotropin- releasing hormone) causes headaches, hypertension that cannot be alleviated by regular therapy and excessive sweating as part of Cushing Syndrome (R).

Adrenal cortisol-producing tumor also causes Cushing Syndrome (R). Adrenal hyperplasia (non-ACTH dependent, autonomous cortisol-producing adrenal nodules) enlarges of adrenal glands (R).

ACTH Can Increase Blood Pressure and Anxiety

ACTH increases blood pressure in humans [R].

ACTH acts on the Serotonin pathway to increase anxiety [R].

FDA Compliance

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