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Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2003 Feb;3(1):78-84.

Cytokines: regulation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis.

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  • 1Department of Neuroendocrinology, Division of Neuroscience and Psychological Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, Hammersmith Campus, Du Cane Road, London W12 0NN, UK.


Many of the pro-inflammatory cytokines that are released in response to immune/inflammatory insults exert marked stimulatory influences on the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis. Thus, they provoke the release of glucocorticoids that, in turn, temper the ensuing immune/inflammatory response, and thereby complete a homeostatic neuroendocrine loop. The mechanisms by which cytokines cause glucocorticoid release are complex and can be affected by repeated or sustained cytokine exposure, gender and age, or counter-regulatory mechanisms.

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