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Adrenocorticotropic hormone or ACTH is produced by the pituitary gland. The main role of ACTH is to stimulate the production and release of the stress hormone cortisol from the adrenal gland.

What might a low result mean?

Lower than normal levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone may be due to Cushing's syndrome, conditions affecting the pituitary gland, e.g. hypopituitarism or as a side-effect of radiation therapy or pituitary surgery.

Too little ACTH can lead to the poor functioning of the adrenal gland due to insufficient production of cortisol.

What might a high result mean?

High ACTH levels may be caused by Addison's disease or congenital adrenal hyperplasia (a genetic disorder which results in the inadequate production of cortisol, aldosterone or both). It can also be a cause of high cortisol in Cushing's disease.