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Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research

On-line version ISSN 1414-431X

Abstract

HERMAN, J.P. et al. Neural regulation of the stress response: glucocorticoid feedback mechanisms. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 2012, vol.45, n.4, pp. 292-298.  Epub Mar 29, 2012 ISSN 1414-431X.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-879X2012007500041.

The mammalian stress response is an integrated physiological and psychological reaction to real or perceived adversity. Glucocorticoids are an important component of this response, acting to redistribute energy resources to both optimize survival in the face of challenge and to restore homeostasis after the immediate challenge has subsided. Release of glucocorticoids is mediated by the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, driven by a neural signal originating in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN). Stress levels of glucocorticoids bind to glucocorticoid receptors in multiple body compartments, including the brain, and consequently have wide-reaching actions. For this reason, glucocorticoids serve a vital function in negative feedback inhibition of their own secretion. Negative feedback inhibition is mediated by a diverse collection of mechanisms, including fast, non-genomic feedback at the level of the PVN, stress-shut-off at the level of the limbic system, and attenuation of ascending excitatory input through destabilization of mRNAs encoding neuropeptide drivers of the HPA axis. In addition, there is evidence that glucocorticoids participate in stress activation via feed-forward mechanisms at the level of the amygdala. Feedback deficits are associated with numerous disease states, underscoring the necessity for adequate control of glucocorticoid homeostasis. Thus, rather than having a single, defined feedback ‘switch’, control of the stress response requires a wide-reaching feedback ‘network’ that coordinates HPA activity to suit the overall needs of multiple body systems.

Keywords : Hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis; Corticotropin-releasing hormone; Glucocorticoid receptor; Amygdala; Hippocampus; Prefrontal cortex.

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