Chronic stress and histological effects on the human central nervous system and other organs

Funct Neurol. 1994 May-Jun;9(3):121-31.


The effects of stress are usually studied in animal models. The organs of 103 subjects who died instantly or very rapidly from gunshot wound were histologically studied. Everyone, within organized criminality, lives under chronic stress. In the hypothalamus a marked depletion of neurosecretive granules of neurons in the supraopticus nucleus, paraventricular nucleus and median eminence was observed, with frequent spreading of these granules along the axons, towards the neurohypophysis. Glial proliferation and frequent chronic perivascular edema were observed in the white substance, as were typical stress lesions in the adrenal gland, a marked depletion of lymphocytes in the splenic follicles, a focal coagulative myocytolysis and the consequent fibrosis in the heart, etc. These findings are the expression of the chronic stress response and of the related psychological state that may also be an aspect of depressive disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autopsy
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / pathology
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / pathology*
  • Male
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Neurons
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / pathology*
  • Pituitary Gland / pathology
  • Spleen / pathology
  • Stress, Psychological / pathology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Supraoptic Nucleus / pathology*