It is well established that a reciprocal control exists between the brain and glucocorticoid hormones. The brain regulates adrenocortical function via hypothalamic corticotropin releasing hormone-41 (CRH-41), glucocorticoids act at specific receptors in the hippocampus, thus promoting negative feedback mechanisms. Because the hippocampus is a major site for memory processes, a role for excessive/long-lasting plasma glucocorticoid levels has been suggested in conditions of mental impairment. Major depression, Cushing's disease, and dementia of the Alzheimer type are disorders which share hyperactivity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis, as well as symptoms of cognitive decline. Although the mechanisms leading to hypercortisolemia appear to be different in each case, the neuropsychological features of these three disorders accord with the hypothesis of glucocorticoid-associated brain damage. It therefore is important to find pparmacological strategies that will avert or reduce these potential consequences on brain function.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems