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Corticotropin-releasing hormone

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noun, plural: corticotropin-releasing hormones

A releasing hormone synthesized by certain neurons in the hypothalamus and released via the hypophysial portal system in order to reach and act on the anterior pituitary, particularly to stimulate target cells within anterior pituitary to release corticotropin


The corticotropin-releasing hormone is one of the various hormones produced by the hypothalamus. It is synthesized particularly by the parvocellular neuroendocrine cells in the paraventricular nucleus the hypothalamus. Then, it is released via the hypothalamo-hypophyseal portal system into the anterior pituitary. Thus, this hormone is regarded as one of the hypothalamic hormones (i.e. hormones produced by specialized neurons that have axon terminals extending to the median eminence).

The corticotropin-releasing hormone interacts with the corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor 1 on the cell surface of the target cell. The binding leads to the activation of the target cell to release corticotropin (also called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).

Corticotropic cells are the target endocrine cells located in the anterior pituitary. These cells release hormones such as ACTH as a response to corticotropin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus. The ACTH stimulates the adrenal gland to secrete glucocorticoids, melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), mineralocorticoid, and androgens.

In humans, the precursor for the corticotropin-releasing hormone is encoded by the CRH gene on chromosome 8. The precursor is 196-amino acid preprohormone. The corticotropin-releasing hormone, in turn, is a peptide hormone consisting of 41 amino acids.

Non-neuronal cells that produce corticotropin-releasing hormone are T cells and certain cells in the placenta. In the placenta, the hormone acts as the determiner of the duration of pregnancy.

Abbreviation(s) / Acronym(s):

  • CRH


  • corticotrophin-releasing hormone


  • corticotrop(h)in-releasing factor (CRF)
  • corticoliberin

See also:

Related term(s):