Medical Definition of Antidiuretic hormone (ADH)

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Antidiuretic hormone (ADH): A relatively small (peptide) molecule that is released by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain after being made nearby (in the hypothalamus). ADH has an antidiuretic action that prevents the production of dilute urine (and so is antidiuretic).

A syndrome of inappropriate secretion of ADH results in the inability to put out dilute urine, perturbs fluid (and electrolyte) balance, and causes nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, confusion and convulsions. This syndrome may occur in association with oat-cell lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and Hodgkin's disease as well as a number of other disorders.

ADH also can stimulate contraction of arteries and capillaries. ADH is also known as vasopressin.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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