Stress and Disorders of the Stress System

George P. Chrousos

In This Article


The stress response, which occurs when homeostasis is threatened or perceived to be threatened, is mediated by the stress system. Central effectors (including hypothalamic hormones, such as AVP, CRH and pro-opiomelanocortin-derived peptides and brainstem-derived norepinephrine) and peripheral effectors (including glucocorticoids, norepinephrine and epinephrine) of this system regulate the brain's cognitive, reward and fear systems and wake–sleep centers as well as the growth, reproductive and thyroid hormone axes, and influence the gastrointestinal, cardiorespiratory, metabolic, and immune systems. Malfunction of the stress system might impair growth, development, behavior and metabolism, which potentially lead to various acute and chronic disorders. Our lifestyles and environment in modern societies seem to be particularly permissive for such stress-related disorders.


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