Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH)

Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH)

Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland in the brain that stimulates the production of hydro-cortisone (the main corticosteroid hormone) by the adrenal cortex. It is also part of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the body’s main stress-response system.


ACTH is composed of a single polypeptide containing 39 amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. It is highly conserved; that is, it is virtually the same in all species. Its structure is homologous to other members of the melanocortin family of peptides.


ACTH is prepared synthetically using recombinant technology. It is also available as a lyophilized powder in various concentrations for injection.


ACTH is usually administered as an intramuscular injection. The dose and frequency of administration depend on the condition being treated. The duration of treatment can vary from a few weeks to months or even years.


There are several different types of ACTH available. These include synthetic ACTH gel, intranasal gel, and inhalable powder.

Risks and Side Effects

The most common side effects of ACTH therapy include nausea, headache, dizziness, fatigue, and joint pain. Other, more serious, side effects include high blood pressure, increased risk of infection, and gastrointestinal problems.

Why is ACTH Used?

ACTH is used to treat a variety of conditions, including adrenal insufficiency, Addison's disease, inflammation, and certain types of cancers. It is also used in the treatment of some forms of arthritis and asthma.

When Should ACTH Be Used?

ACTH should be used when other treatments have failed or are not an option. It should be used with caution in patients with certain conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart disease.