Corticotropin-releasing factor, stress, and depression

Stacey Heit, Michael J. Owens, Paul Plotsky, Charles Nemeroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), a 41 amino acid-containing neuropeptide, acts both as a hypothalamic releasing factor, controlling ACTH and corticosteroid secretion, and at extrahypothalamic CNS sites to modulate mammalian organisms' responses to stress. In this article, the evidence that CRF-containing neurons within the CNS are hyperactive in patients with depression is reviewed. The evidence, taken together, suggests that during depressive episodes, CRF is hypersecreted, resulting in both pituitary-adrenal axis hyperactivity and certain of the signs and symptoms of depression, including decreased appetite, decreased libido and disturbed sleep. There is also evidence that treatments for depression, including antidepressant medications and electroconvulsive therapy, reduce CRF hypersecretion within the CNS. Finally, evidence suggests that alterations in CRF-containing neurons and receptors are responsible for the widely held observation that early untoward life events increase an individual's vulnerability for affective disorders. These findings have a number of implications for treatment of the mood disorders, including the suggestion that the pharmacological manipulation of CRF receptors may provide a novel avenue for the treatment of depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-194
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroscientist
Volume3
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 1997
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
Depression
Mood Disorders
Pituitary Hormone-Releasing Hormones
Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone Receptors
Neurons
Libido
Electroconvulsive Therapy
Appetite
Neuropeptides
Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
Antidepressive Agents
Signs and Symptoms
Adrenal Cortex Hormones
Sleep
Therapeutics
Observation
Pharmacology
Amino Acids

Keywords

  • Affective disorders
  • Antidepressants
  • Depression
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
  • Neuroendocrinology
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Heit, S., Owens, M. J., Plotsky, P., & Nemeroff, C. (1997). Corticotropin-releasing factor, stress, and depression. Neuroscientist, 3(3), 186-194.

Corticotropin-releasing factor, stress, and depression. / Heit, Stacey; Owens, Michael J.; Plotsky, Paul; Nemeroff, Charles.

In: Neuroscientist, Vol. 3, No. 3, 01.05.1997, p. 186-194.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Heit, S, Owens, MJ, Plotsky, P & Nemeroff, C 1997, 'Corticotropin-releasing factor, stress, and depression', Neuroscientist, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 186-194.
Heit S, Owens MJ, Plotsky P, Nemeroff C. Corticotropin-releasing factor, stress, and depression. Neuroscientist. 1997 May 1;3(3):186-194.
Heit, Stacey ; Owens, Michael J. ; Plotsky, Paul ; Nemeroff, Charles. / Corticotropin-releasing factor, stress, and depression. In: Neuroscientist. 1997 ; Vol. 3, No. 3. pp. 186-194.
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