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CUSHING'S SYNDROME: an abnormal bodily condition characterized by obesity and muscular weakness due to excess corticosteroids and especially hydrocortisone from adrenal or pituitary hyperfuction.  Also called adrenogenital syndrome.
CUSHING'S DISEASE: Cushing's syndrome especially when caused by excessive production of ACTH by the pituitary gland.
ACTH: a protein hormone of the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland that stimulates the adrenal cortex -- also called adrenocorticotropic hormone.
ADRENOCORTICOTROPIC HORMONE (ACTH), also known as corticotropin, is a single-chain polypeptide containing 39 amino acids.  Biologic activity resides in the N-terminal 20 amino acids.  CRH is the primary agent that stimulates ACTH release, and ACTH stimulates the adrenal cortex to secrete cortisol and several weak androgens.  Cortisol and other corticosteroids circulating in the plasma exert a feedback inhibition of the secretion of the CRH and ACTH.  The CRH-ACTH- cortisol axis is central in the response to stress.  In the absence of ACTH, the adrenal cortex atrophies and cortisol secretion virtually ceases.
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