Brain Noradrenergic Neurons, Corticotropin-Releasing Factor, and Stress
The hallmark of the organismic state of stress, and the endpoint that has been utilized to determine whether a stimulus is stressful, is the release of adrenocorti-cotropin (ACTH) from the anterior pituitary. It has long been assumed that ACTH release is controlled by a hypothalamic releasing factor. Such a substance, corti-cotropin-releasing factor (CRF, a 41-amino-acid peptide), has recently been isolated, characterized, and synthesized by Vale and colleagues (1981). Substantial evidence, reviewed in this chapter, now suggests that in addition to its function as a releasing factor, CRF may act as a neurotransmitter. CRF-containing cell bodies and fibers have been localized in extrahypothalamic regions, and administration of CRF elicits physiological and behavioral effects that do not depend on the integrity the hypothalamic-pituitary axis. In these dual roles, CRF may act synergistically as a hypothalamo-pituitary releasing factor and as a neurotransmitter in extrahypothalamic circuits to mobilize the organism to respond to “stressful” situations.
KeywordsLocus Coeruleus COrticotroPIn Release Factor Locus Coeruleus Neuron ACTH Release Brain Norepinephrine
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