Skip to content

The importance of biological oscillators for HPA activity and tissue glucocorticoid response: Coordinating stress and neurobehavioural adaptation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 15 Dec 2014
DatePublished (current) - Jun 2015

Abstract

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is critical for life. It has a circadian rhythm that anticipates the metabolic, immune-regulatory and cognitive needs of the active portion of the day, and retains an ability to react rapidly to perceived stressful stimuli. The circadian variation in glucocorticoids is very 'noisy' as it is made up from an underlying approximately hourly ultradian rhythm of glucocorticoid pulses which increase in amplitude at the peak of circadian secretion. We have shown that these pulses emerge as a consequence of the feedforward:feedback relationship between the actions of corticotrophin hormone (ACTH) on the adrenal cortex and of endogenous glucocorticoids on pituitary corticotrophs. The adrenal gland itself has adapted to respond preferentially to a digital signal of ACTH and has its own feedforward:feedback system which effectively amplifies the pulsatile characteristics of the incoming signal. Glucocorticoid receptor signalling in the body is also adapted to respond in a tissue specific manner to oscillating signals of glucocorticoids, and gene transcriptional and behavioural responses depend on the pattern - constant or pulsatile - of glucocorticoid presentation. During major stressful activation of the HPA, there is a marked remodelling of the pituitary-adrenal interaction. The link between ACTH and glucocorticoid pulses is maintained but there is a massive increase in the adrenal responsiveness to the ACTH signals. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Additional information

This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

    Structured keywords

  • CRICBristol

Documents

DOI

View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups