Shock stimulates the hypothalamus to release corticotropin- releasing hormone, which results in the release of adrenocorti- cotropic hormone (ACTH) by the pituitary. ACTH subsequently stimulates the adrenal cortex to release cortisol. Cortisol acts synergistically with epinephrine and glucagon to induce a catabolic state. Cortisol stimulates gluconeogenesis and insu- lin resistance, resulting in hyperglycemia as well as muscle cell protein breakdown and lipolysis to provide substrates for hepatic gluconeogenesis. Cortisol causes retention of sodium and water by the nephrons of the kidney. In the setting of severe hypovolemia, ACTH secretion occurs independently of cortisol negative feedback inhibition.
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