Regulatory Mechanisms of Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone and Vasopressin Gene Expression in the Hypothalamus

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Tuberoinfundibular corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) neurones are the principal regulators of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA)-axis. Vasopressin is primarily a neurohypophysial hormone, produced in magnocellular neurones of the hypothalamic paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei, but parvocellular CRH neurones also coexpress vasopressin, which acts as a second ‘releasing factor’ for adrenocorticotropic hormone along with CRH. All stress inputs converge on these hypothalamic neuroendocrine neurones, and the input signals are integrated to determine the output secretion of CRH and vasopressin. Aminergic, cholinergic, GABAergic, glutamatergic and a number of peptidergic inputs have all been implicated in the regulation of CRH/vasopressin neurones. Glucocorticoids inhibit the HPA-axis activity by negative feedback. Interleukin-1 stimulates CRH and vasopressin gene expression, and is implicated in immune-neuroendocrine regulation. cAMP-response element-binding protein phosphorylation may mediate transcriptional activation of both CRH and vasopressin genes, but the roles of AP-1 and other transcription factors remain controversial. Expression profiles of the CRH and vasopressin genes are not uniform after stress exposure, and the vasopressin gene appears to be more sensitive to glucocorticoid suppression.

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