Dissecting adrenal and behavioral responses to stress by targeted gene inactivation in mice

Stress. 2003 Jun;6(2):121-5. doi: 10.1080/1025389031000116460.


To define the molecular pathways modulating adrenal and behavioral responses to stress, we have generated mice with inactivation of hypothalamic neuropeptides and signaling pathways. Studies in mice deficient in corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) have revealed the essential role for CRH in adrenal glucocorticoid production in response to many physiological and psychological stressors. Immune system activation in CRH-deficient mice provides a unique exception to the necessity for CRH in stimulating adrenal glucocorticoid production. By analyzing mice deficient in interleukin-6 (IL-6) and CRH, we find that restoration of glucocorticoid output with inflammation is largely mediated by dysregulated IL-6 production. Current studies focus on identifying cellular and gene targets by which glucocorticoids regulate immune system function. In contrast to impaired adrenocortical responses to stress, CRH-deficient mice exhibit normal behavioral responses to stress. To determine signaling pathways that may contribute to the behavioral responses to stress, we have generated and analyzed mice deficient in adenylyl cyclase type 8 (AC8). AC8 deficient mice have intact adrenocortical responses to stress, but an inability to undergo stress-induced alterations in behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / genetics*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology*


  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone