Use of adrenocorticotropic hormone in ophthalmology

Alexander B. Crane*, Yael Sharon, David S. Chu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The ability of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) to induce steroidogenesis and upregulate anti-inflammatory processes has long been known. More recently, however, extrasteroidal mechanisms, through which ACTH exerts anti-inflammatory processes, have been described. This has renewed hope that ACTH can combat inflammatory conditions even when resistant to steroids. This review article summarizes the literature on the use of ACTH in ocular disease. Unfortunately, much of the data regarding the clinical utility of ACTH are outdated, with many studies published in the 1950s and 1960s. Many of these older studies are inconsistent or incomplete with their reporting, making it difficult to ascertain the meaning of the outcomes. Despite the limitations, 2 important trends are evident. First, when used to treat an inflammatory disease, ACTH can be effective at decreasing or eliminating ocular inflammation, even in a refractory disease resistant to multiple treatment modalities. Second, adverse effects of ACTH are rare and are most likely to be reported with relatively high doses of ACTH therapy. Taken as a whole, these studies offer initial promising data that ACTH may be a safe and effective alternative in refractory ocular inflammatory disease. However, they highlight an important lack of prospective data to more rigorously understand the true safety and efficacy of this therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-667
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • ACTH
  • Acthar
  • corticotropin
  • uveitis


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