Acute Stress Desensitizes Hypothalamic CRH Neurons to Norepinephrine and Physiological Stress
Noradrenergic afferents to corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) neurons of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) provide a major excitatory drive to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis via α1 adrenoreceptor activation. The ascending noradrenergic afferents are recruited preferentially by physiological, rather than psychological, stress modalities. Glucocorticoids secreted in response to HPA activation feed back onto the hypothalamus to negatively regulate the HPA axis, providing a critical autoregulatory constraint that prevents glucocorticoid overexposure. Whether differential negative feedback mechanisms target stress modality-specific HPA activation is not known. Here, we reveal a desensitization of the α1 adrenoreceptor activation of the HPA axis following acute stress that is mediated by rapid glucocorticoid regulation of adrenoreceptor trafficking. Prior stress desensitized the HPA axis to subsequent physiological, but not psychological, stress. Our findings demonstrate rapid glucocorticoid suppression of adrenoreceptor signaling in CRH neurons that is specific to physiological stress activation, and reveal, therefore, a rapid, modality-selective glucocorticoid feedback mechanism.
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