Stress-related synaptic plasticity in the hypothalamus

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2015 Jul;16(7):377-88. doi: 10.1038/nrn3881.


Stress necessitates an immediate engagement of multiple neural and endocrine systems. However, exposure to a single stressor causes adaptive changes that modify responses to subsequent stressors. Recent studies examining synapses onto neuroendocrine cells in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus demonstrate that stressful experiences leave indelible marks that alter the ability of these synapses to undergo plasticity. These adaptations include a unique form of metaplasticity at glutamatergic synapses, bidirectional changes in endocannabinoid signalling and bidirectional changes in strength at GABAergic synapses that rely on distinct temporal windows following stress. This rich repertoire of plasticity is likely to represent an important building block for dynamic, experience-dependent modulation of neuroendocrine stress adaptation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism*
  • Nerve Net / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Synapses / metabolism*