Science: ACTH Dissected

One of the prime puzzles of chemistry is that biological dynamite, ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone). Secreted in microscopic quantities by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain, it acts as a concertmaster, controlling by subtle hints of its chemical baton the equally subtle operations of the adrenal cortex. The cortex, properly stimulated, secretes hormones that control many activities of the body, including growth and reproduction.

ACTH, expensively extracted from the pituitary glands of cattle, also helps many a disease, such as arthritis, but the magic compound, unfortunately, is anything but simple. It...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!