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Endocrinology. 2010 Oct;151(10):4811-9. doi: 10.1210/en.2010-0285. Epub 2010 Aug 11.

Fast feedback inhibition of the HPA axis by glucocorticoids is mediated by endocannabinoid signaling.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati, GRI E205 (ML: 0506), 2170 E Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45237, USA.


Glucocorticoid hormones are secreted in response to stimuli that activate the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis and self-regulate through negative feedback. Negative feedback that occurs on a rapid time scale is thought to act through nongenomic mechanisms. In these studies, we investigated fast feedback inhibition of HPA axis stress responses by direct glucocorticoid action at the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN). Local infusion of dexamethasone or a membrane-impermeant dexamethasone-BSA conjugate into the PVN rapidly inhibits restraint-induced ACTH and corticosterone release in a manner consistent with feedback actions at the cell membrane. The dexamethasone fast feedback response is blocked by the cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonist AM-251, suggesting that fast feedback requires local release of endocannabinoids. Hypothalamic tissue content of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl glycerol is elevated by restraint stress, consistent with endocannabinoid action on feedback processes. These data support the hypothesis that glucocorticoid-induced fast feedback inhibition of the HPA axis is mediated by a nongenomic signaling mechanism that involves endocannabinoid signaling at the level of the PVN.

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