Laboratory Services

Adrenocorticotropic Hormone, Plasma

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Updated Test Information:

Test Description
Adrenocorticotropic Hormone, Plasma

ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic Hormone); ACTH (Corticotropin); Adrenal Corticotropin Hormone; Corticotropin; Cushing's Disease; Cortrosyn

Test ID
General Information

Useful for determining the cause of hypercortisolism and hypocortisolism

Specimen Type


Specimen Requirements

Lavender top  tube(EDTA): deliver on ice

Specimen Collection / Processing Instructions

  • 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.

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

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

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

  • Immediately freeze plasma.

Minimum Sample Volume

0.75 mL


Frozen (preferred): 28 days
Refrigerated: 3 hrs
Ambient: 2 hrs

Unacceptable Specimen Conditions

Gross hemolysis


  • 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, LCMS/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.


Electrochemiluminescence Immunoassay

Estimated TAT

1-3 days

Test Includes

Adrenocorticotropic Hormone, P


3 months

CPT Code(s)


Reference Range
  • 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.
Performing Lab

Mayo Clinic

LOINC Code(s)


Additional Information