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      Stress Responsiveness of the Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal Axis: Age-Related Features of the Vasopressinergic Regulation

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          The hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis plays a key role in adaptation to environmental stresses. Parvicellular neurons of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus secrete corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) into pituitary portal system; CRH and AVP stimulate adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) release through specific G-protein-coupled membrane receptors on pituitary corticotrophs, CRHR1 for CRH and V1b for AVP; the adrenal gland cortex secretes glucocorticoids in response to ACTH. The glucocorticoids activate specific receptors in brain and peripheral tissues thereby triggering the necessary metabolic, immune, neuromodulatory, and behavioral changes to resist stress. While importance of CRH, as a key hypothalamic factor of HPA axis regulation in basal and stress conditions in most species, is generally recognized, role of AVP remains to be clarified. This review focuses on the role of AVP in the regulation of stress responsiveness of the HPA axis with emphasis on the effects of aging on vasopressinergic regulation of HPA axis stress responsiveness. Under most of the known stressors, AVP is necessary for acute ACTH secretion but in a context-specific manner. The current data on the AVP role in regulation of HPA responsiveness to chronic stress in adulthood are rather contradictory. The importance of the vasopressinergic regulation of the HPA stress responsiveness is greatest during fetal development, in neonatal period, and in the lactating adult. Aging associated with increased variability in several parameters of HPA function including basal state, responsiveness to stressors, and special testing. Reports on the possible role of the AVP/V1b receptor system in the increase of HPA axis hyperactivity with aging are contradictory and requires further research. Many contradictory results may be due to age and species differences in the HPA function of rodents and primates.

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          Most cited references 209

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          The neuroendocrinology of stress and aging: the glucocorticoid cascade hypothesis.

           B McEwen,  L Krey,  R Sapolsky (1986)
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            The role of the hippocampus in feedback regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis.

            There is considerable, although not entirely consistent, evidence that the hippocampus inhibits most aspects of HPA activity, including basal (circadian nadir) and circadian peak secretion as well as the onset and termination of responses to stress. Although much of the evidence for these effects rests only on the measurement of corticosteroids, recent lesion and implant studies indicate that the hippocampus regulates adrenocortical activity at the hypothalamic level, via the expression and secretion of ACTH secretagogues. Such inhibition results largely from the mediation of corticosteroid feedback, although more work is required to determine whether the hippocampus supplies a tonic inhibitory input in the absence of corticosteroids. It must be noted that the hippocampus is not the only feedback site in the adrenocortical system, since removal of its input only reduces, but does not abolish, the efficacy of corticosteroid inhibition, and since other elements of the axis appear eventually to compensate for deficits in feedback regulation. The importance of other feedback sites is further suggested not only by the presence of corticosteroid receptors in other parts of the brain and pituitary, but also by the improved prediction of CRF levels by combined hypothalamic and hippocampal receptor occupancy. The likelihood of feedback mediated by nonhippocampal sites underscores the need for future work to characterize hippocampal influence on HPA activity in the absence of changes in corticosteroid secretion. However, despite the fact that the hippocampus is not the only feedback site, it is distinguished from most potential feedback sites, including the hypothalamus and pituitary, by its high content of both type I and II corticosteroid receptors. The hippocampus is therefore capable of mediating inhibition over a wide range of steroid levels. The low end of this range is represented by corticosteroid inhibition of basal (circadian nadir) HPA activity. The apparent type I receptor specificity of this inhibition and the elevation of trough corticosteroid levels after hippocampal damage support a role for hippocampal type I receptors in regulating basal HPA activity. It is possible that basal activity is controlled in part through hippocampal inhibition of vasopressin, since the inhibition of portal blood vasopressin correlates with lower levels of hippocampal receptor occupancy, and the expression of vasopressin by some CRF neurons is sensitive to very low corticosteroid levels. At the high end of the physiological range, stress-induced or circadian peak corticosteroid secretion correlates strongly with occupancy of the lower affinity hippocampal type II receptors.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
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              Neurobiological and neuropsychiatric effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate (DHEAS).

              DHEA and DHEAS are steroids synthesized in human adrenals, but their function is unclear. In addition to adrenal synthesis, evidence also indicates that DHEA and DHEAS are synthesized in the brain, further suggesting a role of these hormones in brain function and development. Despite intensifying research into the biology of DHEA and DHEAS, many questions concerning their mechanisms of action and their potential involvement in neuropsychiatric illnesses remain unanswered. We review and distill the preclinical and clinical data on DHEA and DHEAS, focusing on (i) biological actions and putative mechanisms of action, (ii) differences in endogenous circulating concentrations in normal subjects and patients with neuropsychiatric diseases, and (iii) the therapeutic potential of DHEA in treating these conditions. Biological actions of DHEA and DHEAS include neuroprotection, neurite growth, and antagonistic effects on oxidants and glucocorticoids. Accumulating data suggest abnormal DHEA and/or DHEAS concentrations in several neuropsychiatric conditions. The evidence that DHEA and DHEAS may be fruitful targets for pharmacotherapy in some conditions is reviewed.

                Author and article information

                Front Endocrinol (Lausanne)
                Front Endocrinol (Lausanne)
                Front. Endocrinol.
                Frontiers in Endocrinology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                12 March 2013
                : 4
                1Research Institute of Medical Primatology of Russian Academy of Medical Sciences Sochi, Russia
                2Sochi State University Sochi, Russia
                Author notes

                Edited by: Hubert Vaudry, University of Rouen, France

                Reviewed by: James A. Carr, Texas Tech University, USA; Dóra Zelena, Institute of Experimental Medicine, Hungary

                *Correspondence: Nadezhda D. Goncharova, Research Institute of Medical Primatology of Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Veseloye 1, Adler, Sochi 354376, Krasnodarskii Krai, Russia. e-mail: ndgoncharova@ 123456mail.ru

                This article was submitted to Frontiers in Neuroendocrine Science, a specialty of Frontiers in Endocrinology.

                Copyright © 2013 Goncharova.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 218, Pages: 15, Words: 16674
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