Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH, also adrenocorticotropin, corticotropin) is a hormone produced in the anterior pituitary gland that stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and aldosterone. The ACTH plasma test quantifies the blood's level of ACTH. A patient's blood is drawn for the test and then sent to a lab for examination. The test findings enable the diagnosis of ailments such as Addison's disease, Cushing's syndrome, and adrenal tumors
Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) is a hormone produced and released by the anterior pituitary gland that stimulates the adrenal glands to produce and release cortisol, a steroid hormone involved in the body's stress response and regulation of blood sugar, blood pressure, and immune system function.
To measure ACTH levels in the blood, a blood sample is taken and sent to a laboratory for analysis. The ACTH level is determined by a radioimmunoassay (RIA) or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test. These tests measure the amount of ACTH in the blood and can help diagnose conditions related to adrenal gland function or pituitary gland problems.
Table of Contents
What is Adrenal Corticotropic Hormone (ACTH)?
Adrenocorticotropic hormone is secreted in your brain's anterior (front) pituitary gland.
The role of ACTH is to maintain appropriate levels of the stress hormone cortisol released by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is our body’s natural alarm system. As our body’s primary stress hormone, it works with different parts of the brain to influence our fear, mood, and motivation.
Cortisol is best known for fueling the body’s “fight-or-flight” response in a crisis. But cortisol also has a critical role in a variety of things the body does, like:
- Controlling the sleeping and waking cycle
- Boosting energy levels to handle stress better(and restore normal levels afterward)
- Influences how the body uses carbs, proteins, and fats
- Reducing inflammation
- Regulating blood pressure
- Increasing blood sugar
What Are the Symptoms of High or Low ACTH-Induced Cortisol?
Symptoms of high cortisol can include; high blood pressure, obesity, high blood sugar levels, and edema. Low cortisol levels can cause weight loss, fatigue, low blood pressure, and muscle weakness.
What is the ACTH Plasma Test?
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of a cortisol imbalance, your doctor may order an ACTH test to measure the levels of both ACTH and cortisol in the blood. The ACTH test will help your doctor detect diseases associated with too much or too little cortisol in the body. Your doctor might also perform a physical examination before making a firm diagnosis.
The function of the adrenal glands is assessed, and numerous diseases involving these glands are diagnosed using the Adrenocorticotropic Hormone ACTH plasma test. Two tiny, triangular-shaped glands, the adrenal glands, are located above each kidney and are crucial in producing several hormones, including cortisol and aldosterone. Aldosterone helps maintain salt and water balance, while cortisol helps regulate blood pressure and metabolism.
The pituitary gland, a tiny endocrine gland situated at the base of the brain, is responsible for producing and releasing the hormone ACTH. The main job of ACTH is to induce the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands.
What Conditions Are Diagnosed with the ACTH Serum Test?
The ACTH plasma test quantifies the blood's level of ACTH. A patient's blood is drawn for the test and then sent to a lab for examination. The test findings enable the diagnosis of ailments such as Addison's disease, Cushing's syndrome, and adrenal tumors.
It is known as Addison's disease when the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol and aldosterone. This condition manifests itself in a number of ways, including exhaustion, weight loss, low blood pressure, and skin darkening. An overabundance of cortisol in the blood causes Cushing's syndrome, which manifests as symptoms like weight gain, high blood pressure, and muscle weakness. The overproduction of cortisol or other adrenal hormones by adrenal tumors can result in a variety of symptoms.
Because the blood levels of ACTH can show whether the adrenal glands are working normally or not, the ACTH plasma test is used to identify various diseases. For instance, in Addison's disease, the pituitary gland tries to stimulate the adrenal glands to make more cortisol, which causes the blood levels of ACTH to be elevated. Because the adrenal glands are already making too much cortisol and do not require additional stimulation, the levels of ACTH in the blood are often low in Cushing's syndrome.
The ACTH plasma test can also be used to check on how well certain disorders are being treated. Consider a patient who is receiving replacement cortisol medication for Addison's disease. If so, cortisol is provided by external means create, so the blood's concentration of ACTH should drop.
The ACTH plasma test can identify and track problems involving the pituitary gland and detect and monitor conditions involving the adrenal glands. The pituitary gland produces and releases several hormones, including ACTH. Infertility, irregular menstruation, and decreased sex drive are just a few signs that can occur if the pituitary gland is not working correctly.
It's crucial to remember that other tests are available to diagnose problems with the pituitary and adrenal glands in addition to the ACTH plasma test. In addition to the ACTH plasma test, these diseases may also be diagnosed with additional tests such as the cortisol test, the aldosterone test, and the 24-hour urine cortisol test.
An easy and risk-free test that can reveal important details regarding the adrenal and pituitary glands' operations is the ACTH plasma test. To decide on the best course of therapy, it is crucial to go over the test results with a healthcare professional.
In conclusion, the ACTH plasma test is a diagnostic procedure used to determine how well the pituitary and adrenal glands are operating and assess the adrenal glands' functioning.
More information: Aldosterone, Renin, and ACTH
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