Zoom sur les corticotropes

Focus on corticotropes

Mar 15, 2024

Corticotrope cells are widely present in the anterior pituitary gland , a small gland located at the base of the brain. They are central to the production and release of ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) , a key element in the regulation of our response to stress.

Understanding corticotropes: definition and function

Corticotropic cells , located in the anterior pituitary gland, play a crucial role in the functioning of the body. Its main mission is the production of pituitary adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) which controls adrenocortical function . ACTH notably stimulates the production of cortisol by the adrenal cortex.

It is essential to emphasize the importance of cortisol in our body. Cortisol is the main glucocorticoid hormone , a hormone that has several essential functions for our body.

Cortisol production is tightly regulated by the so-called hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HHC) axis. This complex biological system guarantees balanced production of cortisol, responding precisely to the body's needs.

Cortisol itself has a regulatory role in the process. It exerts negative feedback on the synthesis and secretion of hypothalamic-pituitary hormones, thus ensuring a fine balance in hormonal secretion.

The relationship between corticotropes and stress is also a particularly interesting subject. Not only intense stress, but also conditions such as severe depression, psychoses and alcoholism can activate the adrenocortical axis. These situations can lead to relative and reversible resistance to glucocorticoids, thus modifying the body's response to stress.

Symptoms and signs of corticosteroid dysfunction

Among the most common symptoms , significant asthenia , tendency to hypotension , weight loss , anorexia as well as the risk of hypoglycemia and hyponatremia should be highlighted. These signs, which may go unnoticed at first, if not treated quickly, can lead to a dangerous disruption of vital functions. A corticotropic deficiency can cause vasoplegic cardiovascular collapse , which can be life-threatening.

Other diseases linked to corticotropic dysfunction also include ACTH-dependent Cushing syndromes . ACTH , produced in the corticotroph cells of the anterior pituitary gland, controls adrenocortical function. If these cells malfunction, hypercortisolism can develop. This syndrome can be diagnosed by an increase in urinary cortisol or abnormal dexamethasone suppression.

The other aspect to consider is panhypopituitarism . Clinical signs in adults include pale facial features, depigmentation of the breast areolas and external genitalia, thin, cold, dry skin, fine wrinkles, fine, silky hair, and axillary and pubic hair loss.

Exploration of diseases linked to corticotrope dysfunctions

ACTH , produced in corticotropic cells of the anterior pituitary , controls adrenocortical function. The importance of these cells for body balance is therefore indisputable. Certain conditions linked to corticotropic dysfunction can be fatal. A corticotropic deficiency can cause vasoplegic cardiovascular collapse, thus endangering the patient's life.

Biological exploration to identify corticotropic dysfunctions includes the study of baseline secretion of cortisol and ACTH , and responses under stimulation or braking tests to highlight dysfunctions of the HHC axis. Once hypercortisolism is confirmed (absence of braking, absence of nycthemeral rhythm of plasma cortisol and/or elevated CLU), the first step in the etiological investigation is to establish whether or not hypercortisolism depends on ACTH . This investigation contributes to the etiological diagnosis which makes it possible to confirm the pituitary origin of hypercortisolism.

Plus d'articles

Retours au blog

Vous avez encore plein d'articles à découvrir !