Paul M. Plotsky The Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology, The Salk Institute, La Jolla, California, USA Key words corticotropin-releasing factor, arginine vasopressin, adrenocorticotropin, corticosterone, catecholamines Foremost among physiological concepts is that of constancy of the milieu interior first introduced by Claude Bernard ( I ) and extended by Walter Cannon (2), who coined the term homeostasis. Cannon was among the first to recognize the pivotal role played by the CNS in coordinating the many processes which ensure a relative constancy of the internal environment. Activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is one of the many systems designed to maintain homeostatic balance in response to a diversity of challenges. Indeed, in the absence of glucocorticoids, even moderate stressors can threaten survival. The role of the adrenal cortex as a primary effector mediating homeostasis was strongly advanced by Seyle (3) and reinforced by an impressive body of observations (4-8). The detailed anatomical observations of Popa and Fielding (9), Houssay et al. (lo), and Wislocki and King (1 1) established the unique nature of the hypophysial-portal vasculature and, eventually provided a morphological foundation to our current understanding of neuroendocrine communication. The combination of this anatomical foundation with the work of
Journal of Neuroendocrinology – Wiley
Published: Feb 1, 1991
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