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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Feb 20;93(4):1619-23.

Persistent elevations of cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of corticotropin-releasing factor in adult nonhuman primates exposed to early-life stressors: implications for the pathophysiology of mood and anxiety disorders.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA.


There is increasing evidence for an important role of adverse early experience on the development of major psychiatric disorders in adulthood. Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), an endogenous neuropeptide, is the primary physiological regulator of the mammalian stress response. Grown nonhuman primates who were exposed as infants to adverse early rearing conditions were studied to determine if long-term alterations of CRF neuronal systems had occurred following the early stressor. In comparison to monkeys reared by mothers foraging under predictable conditions, infant monkeys raised by mothers foraging under unpredictable conditions exhibited persistently elevated cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of CRF. Because hyperactivity of CRF-releasing neurons has been implicated in the pathophysiology of certain human affective and anxiety disorders, the present finding provides a potential neurobiological mechanism by which early-life stressors may contribute to adult psychopathology.

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