Structural and functional evolution of vertebrate neuroendocrine stress systems

Author(s): R.J. Denver



The vertebrate hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA; or interrenal) axis plays pivotal roles in animal development and in physiological and behavioral adaptation to environmental change. The HPA, or stress axis, is organized in a hierarchical manner, with feedback operating at several points along the axis. Recent findings suggest that the proteins, gene structures, and signaling pathways of the HPA axis were present in the earliest vertebrates and have been maintained by natural selection owing to their critical adaptive roles. In all vertebrates studied, the HPA axis is activated in response to stressors and is controlled centrally by peptides of the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) family of which four paralogous members have been identified.

Publication Information:

Name of Periodical: Pub. Med.

Year of Publication: 2009