The activity of the hypothalamo-neurohypophysial system in response to acute stressor exposure: neuroendocrine and electrophysiological observations

Stress. 2004 Jun;7(2):91-6. doi: 10.1080/10253890410001677240.


The present mini review focuses on stress-induced alterations of the electrical and secretory activity of vasopressin (AVP) and oxytocin (OXT) neurones originating within the supraoptic nucleus (SON) and constituting the hypothalamo-neurohypophysial system (HNS) in the male rat. Previously, it was thought that SON neurones are predominantly activated by osmotic and reproductive stimuli. However, recent findings also suggest a selective activation of AVP and/or OXT neurones in response to specific stressors. Inhibitory amino acids seem to participate at the level of the SON in the control of HNS activity during stress. Taurine, probably of glial origin, selectively inhibits the secretory activity of AVP neurones. In contrast, GABA, probably of neuronal origin, interferes with the release of OXT both from axon terminals into blood and from somata/dendrites into the extracellular fluid of the SON. Depending upon whether a defined stressor triggers taurine and/or GABA release within the SON the secretion of AVP and/or OXT from HNS neurones will be inhibited. These observations shed new light on the neurone-neurone and glial-neurone interactions that ensure an appropriate neuroendocrine stress response.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Electrophysiology
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiopathology*
  • Neurosecretory Systems / physiopathology*
  • Pituitary Gland, Posterior / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology*