Test Catalog

Test Id : ACTH

Adrenocorticotropic Hormone, Plasma

Useful For
Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Determining the cause of hypercortisolism and hypocortisolism

Method Name
A short description of the method used to perform the test

Electrochemiluminescence Immunoassay

NY State Available
Indicates the status of NY State approval and if the test is orderable for NY State clients.


Reporting Name
Lists a shorter or abbreviated version of the Published Name for a test

Adrenocorticotropic Hormone, P

Lists additional common names for a test, as an aid in searching

ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic Hormone)

ACTH (Corticotropin)

Adrenal Corticotropin Hormone


Cushing's Disease


Specimen Type
Describes the specimen type validated for testing

Plasma EDTA

Necessary Information

Separate specimens should be submitted when multiple tests are ordered.

Specimen Required
Defines the optimal specimen required to perform the test and the preferred volume to complete testing

Patient Preparation: For the 12 hours before specimen collection do not take multivitamins or dietary supplements containing biotin (vitamin B7), which is commonly found in hair, skin, and nail supplements and multivitamins.

Supplies: Sarstedt 5 mL Aliquot Tube (T914)

Collection Container/Tube: Ice-cooled, lavender top (EDTA)

Submission Container/Tube: Plastic, 5 mL, aliquot tube

Specimen Volume: 1 mL

Collection Instructions:

1. Morning (6 a.m.-10:30 a.m.) specimen is desirable.

2. Collect with a pre-chilled lavender top (EDTA) tube and transport to the laboratory on ice.

3. Centrifuge at refrigerated temperature within 2 hours and immediately separate plasma from cells.

4. Immediately freeze plasma.


If not ordering electronically, complete, print, and send 1 of the following forms with the specimen:

-General Request (T239)

-Oncology Test Request (T729)

Specimen Minimum Volume
Defines the amount of sample necessary to provide a clinically relevant result as determined by the testing laboratory. The minimum volume is sufficient for one attempt at testing.

0.75 mL

Reject Due To
Identifies specimen types and conditions that may cause the specimen to be rejected

Gross hemolysis Reject
Gross lipemia OK

Specimen Stability Information
Provides a description of the temperatures required to transport a specimen to the performing laboratory, alternate acceptable temperatures are also included

Specimen Type Temperature Time Special Container
Plasma EDTA Frozen (preferred) 28 days
Refrigerated 3 hours
Ambient 2 hours

Useful For
Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Determining the cause of hypercortisolism and hypocortisolism

Clinical Information
Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) is synthesized by the pituitary in response to corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which is released by the hypothalamus. ACTH stimulates adrenal cortisol production. Plasma ACTH and cortisol levels exhibit peaks (6-8 a.m.) and troughs (11 p.m.).


Disorders of cortisol production that might affect circulating ACTH concentrations include:


-Cushing syndrome:

- Cushing disease (pituitary ACTH-producing tumor)

- Ectopic ACTH-producing tumor

- Ectopic CRH

- Adrenal cortisol-producing tumor

- Adrenal hyperplasia (non-ACTH dependent, autonomous cortisol-producing adrenal nodules)



-Addison disease-primary adrenal insufficiency

-Secondary adrenal insufficiency

-Pituitary insufficiency

-Hypothalamic insufficiency

-Congenital adrenal hyperplasia-defects in enzymes involved in cortisol synthesis

Reference Values
Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

7.2-63 pg/mL (a.m. draws)

No established reference values for p.m. draws

Pediatric reference values are the same as adults, as confirmed by peer reviewed literature.


Petersen KE: ACTH in normal children and children with pituitary and adrenal diseases. I. Measurement in plasma by radioimmunoassay-basal values. Acta Paediatr Scand 1981;70:341-345


For SI unit Reference Values, see https://www.mayocliniclabs.com/order-tests/si-unit-conversion.html

Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

In a patient with hypocortisolism, an elevated adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) indicates primary adrenal insufficiency, whereas a value that is not elevated is consistent with secondary adrenal insufficiency from a pituitary or hypothalamic cause.


In a patient with hypercortisolism (Cushing syndrome), a suppressed value is consistent with a cortisol-producing adrenal adenoma or carcinoma, primary adrenal micronodular hyperplasia, or exogenous corticosteroid use.


Normal or elevated ACTH in a patient with Cushing syndrome puts the patient in the ACTH-dependent Cushing syndrome category. This is due to either an ACTH-producing pituitary adenoma or ectopic production of ACTH (bronchial carcinoid, small cell lung cancer, others). Further diagnostic studies such as dexamethasone suppression testing, corticotropin-releasing hormone stimulation testing, petrosal sinus sampling, and imaging studies are usually necessary to define the ACTH source.


ACTH concentrations vary considerably depending on physiological conditions. Therefore, ACTH results should always be evaluated with simultaneously measured cortisol concentrations.

Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

In very rare instances of the ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) syndrome, the elevated ACTH may be biologically active but not detected by the immunometric assay.


Falsely elevated values may occur in plasma from patients who have developed human antimouse antibodies or heterophilic antibodies.


In rare cases, interference due to extremely high titers of antibodies to analyte-specific antibodies, streptavidin, or ruthenium can occur.


Under ACTH 1-24 medication, ACTH measurement is not recommended, due to negative interference with the sandwich assay.


Patients taking glucocorticoids may have suppressed levels of ACTH with an apparent high level of cortisol. This may be due to cross-reactivity with the cortisol immunoassays. If exogenous Cushing is suspected, a cortisol level determined by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) (eg, CINP / Cortisol, Serum, LC-MS/MS) should be used with the ACTH level for the interpretation.


Values obtained with different assay methods or kits may be different and cannot be used interchangeably. Test results cannot be interpreted as absolute evidence for the presence or absence of malignant disease.

Clinical Reference
Recommendations for in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Demers LM: In Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics, 2006; pp 2014-2027

2. Petersen KE: ACTH in normal children and children with pituitary and adrenal diseases I. Measurement in plasma by radioimmunoassay-basal values. Acta Paediatr Scan 1981;70:341-345

Method Description
Describes how the test is performed and provides a method-specific reference

Testing is performed on the Roche cobas. The Roche adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) assay is a sandwich, electrochemiluminescence immunoassay that employs a biotinylated monoclonal ACTH-specific antibody and a monoclonal ACTH specific antibody labeled with a ruthenium complex. ACTH in the specimen reacts with both the biotinylated monoclonal ACTH-specific antibody and the monoclonal ACTH-specific antibody labeled with a ruthenium complex, forming a sandwich complex. Streptavidin-coated microparticles are added and the mixture incubates allowing the newly formed sandwich complex to become bound to the solid phase via the biotin streptavidin interaction. The reaction mixture is aspirated into the measuring cell where the microparticles are magnetically captured onto the surface of the electrode. Application of voltage to the electrode induces the chemiluminescent emission, which is then measured.


The assay employs two monoclonal antibodies specific for ACTH (9-12) and for the C-terminal region (ACTH 36-39). Due to common antigenic structure, the antibodies recognize intact biologically active ACTH 1-39 and the ACTH precursors pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) and pro-ACTH.(Package insert: Elecsys ACTH, Roche Diagnostics, Indianapolis, IN V 1.0, 05/2017)

PDF Report
Indicates whether the report includes an additional document with charts, images or other enriched information


Day(s) Performed
Outlines the days the test is performed. This field reflects the day that the sample must be in the testing laboratory to begin the testing process and includes any specimen preparation and processing time before the test is performed. Some tests are listed as continuously performed, which means that assays are performed multiple times during the day.

Monday through Friday

Report Available
The interval of time (receipt of sample at Mayo Clinic Laboratories to results available) taking into account standard setup days and weekends. The first day is the time that it typically takes for a result to be available. The last day is the time it might take, accounting for any necessary repeated testing.

1 to 3 days

Specimen Retention Time
Outlines the length of time after testing that a specimen is kept in the laboratory before it is discarded

2 weeks

Performing Laboratory Location
Indicates the location of the laboratory that performs the test


Several factors determine the fee charged to perform a test. Contact your U.S. or International Regional Manager for information about establishing a fee schedule or to learn more about resources to optimize test selection.

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Test Classification
Provides information regarding the medical device classification for laboratory test kits and reagents. Tests may be classified as cleared or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and used per manufacturer instructions, or as products that do not undergo full FDA review and approval, and are then labeled as an Analyte Specific Reagent (ASR) product.

This test has been cleared, approved, or is exempt by the US Food and Drug Administration and is used per manufacturer's instructions. Performance characteristics were verified by Mayo Clinic in a manner consistent with CLIA requirements.

CPT Code Information
Provides guidance in determining the appropriate Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code(s) information for each test or profile. The listed CPT codes reflect Mayo Clinic Laboratories interpretation of CPT coding requirements. It is the responsibility of each laboratory to determine correct CPT codes to use for billing.

CPT codes are provided by the performing laboratory.


LOINC® Information
Provides guidance in determining the Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) values for the order and results codes of this test. LOINC values are provided by the performing laboratory.

Test Id Test Order Name Order LOINC Value
ACTH Adrenocorticotropic Hormone, P 2141-0
Result Id Test Result Name Result LOINC Value
Applies only to results expressed in units of measure originally reported by the performing laboratory. These values do not apply to results that are converted to other units of measure.
ACTH Adrenocorticotropic Hormone, P 2141-0

Test Setup Resources

Setup Files
Test setup information contains test file definition details to support order and result interfacing between Mayo Clinic Laboratories and your Laboratory Information System.

Excel | Pdf

Sample Reports
Normal and Abnormal sample reports are provided as references for report appearance.

Normal Reports | Abnormal Reports

SI Sample Reports
International System (SI) of Unit reports are provided for a limited number of tests. These reports are intended for international account use and are only available through MayoLINK accounts that have been defined to receive them.

SI Normal Reports | SI Abnormal Reports