The Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal Axis and Anesthetics: A Review

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Abstract

The hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis is essential for human adaptation to stress. However, many anesthetic agents may interfere with the activity of this axis. Although etomidate is known for its suppressive effect on HPA axis function, in vitro evidence suggests that many other drugs used in anesthesia care may also interfere with HPA activity. In this review, we discuss the mechanisms by which all HPA axis activity may be altered during anesthesia and critical care and focus on the impact of hypnotic and analgesic drugs.

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