Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by an irreversible and progressive loss of neuronal structure and function. While many alterations to normal cellular processes occur during neurodegeneration, a pathological accumulation of aggregated proteins constitutes a hallmark of several neurodegenerative disorders. Alzheimer's disease, specifically, is pathologically defined by the formation of amyloid plaques and tangles of hyperphosphorylated tau protein. Stress has emerged as an important factor in the development and progression of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's. Very little is known, however, regarding the effects of stress on the mechanisms controlling abnormal protein aggregation and clearance. Chronic stress activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, causing an excessive secretion of glucocorticoids that are capable of impacting diverse physiological and cellular processes. The present review focuses on the influence of stress on a key feature of Alzheimer's disease pathology, emphasizing the relationship between tau phosphorylation and accumulation and its connection to HPA axis dysfunction.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; HPA axis; Hyperphosphorylation; Neurodegeneration; Stress; Tau.