Brain Noradrenergic Neurons, Corticotropin-Releasing Factor, and Stress

  • Rita J. Valentino
  • Stephen L. Foote
Part of the GWUMC Department of Biochemistry Annual Spring Symposia book series (GWUN)


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.


Locus Coeruleus COrticotroPIn Release Factor Locus Coeruleus Neuron ACTH Release Brain Norepinephrine 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rita J. Valentino
    • 1
  • Stephen L. Foote
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyGeorge Washington University Medical CenterUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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