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Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2002 Mar;31(1):79-106.

Role of epinephrine in acute stress.

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Department of Medicine, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, 3128 Temple Dr., Springfield, IL 62704, USA.


This article presents the likely pathway of stimuli generated by the recognition of high-intensity stressors to ultimately produce a fight-or-flight response. A key element is the recognition that psychological stressors that do not directly alter the internal environment represent the most important etiology of a fight-or-flight response. Adrenomedullary secretion is a critical component of that response; impromptu stimulation of the adrenal medulla can produce plasma epinephrine concentrations greater than 10,000 pg/mL. When these plasma levels reach the hypothalamus to act on the CNS, the result is facilitation of the decision making, and decision execution processes (fight-or-flight), and perhaps further sympathetic stimulation and vasopressin release. Subjects with underlying cardiovascular and/or metabolic pathology may be particularly susceptible to potentially lethal reactions to this neuroendocrine response. Additionally, since this biological reaction may be triggered by sudden changes in the social environment, the coordinated actions of epinephrine, sympathetic stimulation and vasopressin must be directed at not only optimizing the chances for survival, but also at attaining maximal preservation of the individual environmental and social domains.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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