Stress responses have been posited to be a key component of mental health and disease by playing essential roles both in normal adaptive processes and maladaptive physiological responses that in part underlie the pathogenesis of certain subtypes of mood and anxiety disorders. Early research focused on delineating the function of the hypothalamicpituitary- adrenal (HPA) axis and subsequently examined its role in mediating the mammalian stress responses and its hyperactivity in depression. Much evidence now supports an important function of the biological mediators of this system in relation to not only depression, but also anxiety, substance abuse, and psychotic disorders, and implicates several components of this system as areas of intervention for novel pharmacotherapy. Perhaps the best studied central nervous system (CNS) component of this system is corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), and considerable research has focused on its role in the HPA axis, as well in extrahypothalamic brain regions.
Keywords: Corticotropin-releasing factor, depression, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, early life stress, mood and anxiety disorders, corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), CRFERGIC FUNCTION, hypercortisolemia, Cushing's disease, dexamethasone suppression test, dexamethasone suppression, cerebrospinal fluid, depressogenic effects, post-traumatic stress disorder, depressive episodes
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