Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 30, Issue 8, pp 1433–1440 | Cite as

Adrenal Responses to Stress

Review Paper


Based on concepts proposed by Langley, Cannon, and Selye, adrenal responses to stress occur in a syndrome that reflects activation of the sympathoadrenal system and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenocortical (HPA) axis; and a “stress syndrome” maintains homeostasis in emergencies such as “fight or flight” situations, but if the stress response is excessive or prolonged then any of a variety of clinical disorders can arise. The idea of a unitary sympathoadrenal system does not account for evidence that different stressors elicit different patterns of autonomic responses, with exposure to some stressors differentially affecting sympathetic noradrenergic and adrenomedullary hormonal activities. Instead, adrenomedullary responses to stressors are more closely tied to adrenocortical than to sympathetic noradrenergic responses. Distress involves concurrent activation of the HPA and adrenomedullary neuroendocrine systems.


Stress Adrenal Epinephrine Norepinephrine Sympathetic nervous system 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC (outside the USA) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical Neurocardiology Section, Clinical Neurosciences Program, Division of Intramural ResearchNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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