Polypeptide hormone made in the pituitary gland. It regulates the activity of part of the adrenal cortex (see adrenal glands), the production site of important steroid hormones that affect electrolyte and water balance and the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. ACTH is found in vertebrates (except jawless fishes); in mammals it contains 39 amino acids. Overproduction of ACTH is one cause of Cushing syndrome.
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