Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function

Arch Physiol Biochem. 2002 Apr;110(1-2):90-3. doi: 10.1076/apab.


Basal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) function is characterised by pulses of corticosterone secretion followed by a transient refractory period when the axis appears to be inhibited. In females pulses of corticosterone secretion occur approximately once per hour with variation in pulse amplitude underlying a diurnal rhythm. Males show smaller pulses of secretion which become widely spaced during the early light phase nadir. Pulsatility is altered by genetic programming, early life experiences and reproductive status. Activation of the HPA axis during adjuvant induced arthritis results in an increase in the pulse frequency. This is associated with a marked change in hypothalamic gene expression with a diminution of CRH mRNA and a marked increase of AVP mRNA which becomes the predominant HPA secretagogue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / physiology*
  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Corticosterone / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus / physiology*
  • Pituitary Gland, Anterior / physiology*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology


  • Corticosterone