What’s a corticotropin-releasing hormone?

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Hormones are produced by the endocrine system, with the hypothalamus producing corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) to stimulate the pituitary gland to secrete adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH triggers the secretion of mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids, and androgens, which regulate blood pressure, convert proteins and fats into glucose, and develop male sexual organs and characteristics. Abnormalities in CRH production can cause symptoms such as hypertension and weakness. Damage to the hypothalamus or pituitary gland can also affect CRH production. Endocrinologists and neurologists treat patients with endocrine disorders, and neurosurgeons may be needed for pituitary gland tumor removal.

Hormones are made up of proteins, which act on other sites or organs in the body. They are generally produced by organs of the endocrine system, which functions in maintaining normal metabolism within the body. The hypothalamus in the brain produces a corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), formerly known as corticotropin-releasing factor. This hormone stimulates the frontal region of the pituitary gland, a pea-shaped gland located just below the hypothalamus, to secrete another hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).

In summary, a corticotropin-releasing hormone is often required for ACTH production. The ACTH hormone, in turn, goes to the adrenal glands, small glands located at the top of each kidney, to trigger the secretion of three other substances. These substances are mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids, and androgens.

Mineralocorticoids function in regulating normal blood pressure. Glucocorticoids are responsible for converting proteins and fats into glucose, which is the cells’ main source of food and energy. Androgens work in the formation of the male sexual organs and in the development of secondary male characteristics, such as deepening of the voice, growth of facial and chest hair, and increased height.

Any abnormality in the production and secretion of corticotropin-releasing hormone will affect the production of ACTH, as well as the production of other substances that it stimulates. If there is hyposecretion or a reduction in the amount of corticotropin-releasing hormone that is secreted, manifestations of symptoms are often seen. These include hypertension, or increased blood pressure, and weakness of the body due to a lack of glucose, which provides energy for muscle cells. On the other hand, when hypersecretion or increased production of corticotropin-releasing hormone occurs, the affected individual usually exhibits opposite symptoms such as low blood pressure and high blood glucose levels.

Damage to the hypothalamus caused by traumatic brain injury or stroke can greatly interfere with the normal production of corticotropin-releasing hormones. Damage to the pituitary gland may also affect the gland’s response to corticotropin-releasing hormone stimulation. The development of tumors or massive lesions in any area of ​​the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis can also lead to impaired corticotropin-releasing hormone production and secretion.

Endocrinologists are doctors who treat patients with disorders of the endocrine system. Neurologists, doctors who specialize in disorders of the brain and nervous system, also manage these patients, especially when they have other neurological symptoms. The removal of a tumor in the pituitary gland also needs the expertise of neurosurgeons, doctors who perform surgical operations on the brain.

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