Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner


  • Jennifer HeaneyEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_435


Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) is a polypeptide hormone that is synthesized and secreted by the anterior pituitary gland. ACTH forms part the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) and its production is stimulated by corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) from the hypothalamus. ACTH acts on the adrenal cortex, by increasing the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone, to stimulate the release of mineralocorticoids, androgenic steroids, and glucocorticoids, namely, cortisol (Martin, Reichlin, & Brown, 1977).

Along with CRH, ACTH is produced in the response to stress, stimulating an increase in production and secretion of cortisol. The secretion of ACTH is subject to negative feedback, where increased cortisol levels reduce the secretion of ACTH. It also controls its own secretion through short loop feedback via CRH. ACTH is secreted in a pulsatile manner, which is under neural control rather than a result of stress (Martin, Reichlin, & Brown, 1977). The...

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References and Readings

  1. Greenspan, F. S., & Forsham, P. H. (1983). Basic & clinical endocrinology. California, CA: Lange Medical Publications.Google Scholar
  2. Martin, J. B., Reichlin, S., & Brown, G. M. (1977). Clinical neuroendocrinology. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Sport and Exercise SciencesThe University of BirminghamEdgbastonUK