60 YEARS OF POMC: Adrenal and extra-adrenal functions of ACTH

    1. Nicole Gallo-Payet1,2
    1. 1Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, Faculté de médecine et des sciences de la santé, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
    2. 2Centre de recherche clinique Étienne-Le Bel of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS), Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
    1. Correspondence should be addressed to N Gallo-Payet; Email: nicole.gallo-payet{at}usherbrooke.ca


    The pituitary adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) plays a pivotal role in homeostasis and stress response and is thus the major component of the hypothalamo–pituitary–adrenal axis. After a brief summary of ACTH production from proopiomelanocortin (POMC) and on ACTH receptor properties, the first part of the review covers the role of ACTH in steroidogenesis and steroid secretion. We highlight the mechanisms explaining the differential acute vs chronic effects of ACTH on aldosterone and glucocorticoid secretion. The second part summarizes the effects of ACTH on adrenal growth, addressing its role as either a mitogenic or a differentiating factor. We then review the mechanisms involved in steroid secretion, from the classical Cyclic adenosine monophosphate second messenger system to various signaling cascades. We also consider how the interaction between the extracellular matrix and the cytoskeleton may trigger activation of signaling platforms potentially stimulating or repressing the steroidogenic potency of ACTH. Finally, we consider the extra-adrenal actions of ACTH, in particular its role in differentiation in a variety of cell types, in addition to its known lipolytic effects on adipocytes. In each section, we endeavor to correlate basic mechanisms of ACTH function with the pathological consequences of ACTH signaling deficiency and of overproduction of ACTH.

    • Received 12 January 2016
    • Accepted 21 January 2016
    • Made available online as an Accepted Preprint 1 May 2016
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