Clinical Neuroscience

[HANS SELYE AND THE STRESS RESPONSE: FROM “THE FIRST MEDIATOR” TO THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE HYPOTHALAMIC CORTICOTROPIN-RELEASING FACTOR]

TACHÉ Yvette

MARCH 30, 2014

Clinical Neuroscience - 2014;67(03-04)

[Selye pioneered the stress concept that is ingrained in the vocabulary of daily life. This was originally build on experimental observations that divers noxious agents can trigger a similar triad of endocrine (adrenal enlargement), immune (involution of thymus) and gut (gastric erosion formation) responses as reported in a letter to Nature in 1936. Subsequently, he articulated the underlying mechanisms and hypothesized the existence of a “first mediator” in the hypothalamus able to orchestrate this bodily changes. However he took two generations to identify this mediator. The Nobel Laureate, Roger Guillemin, a former Selye’s PhD student, demonstrated in 1955 the existence of a hypothalamic factor that elicited adrenocorticotropic hormone release from the rat pituitary and named it corticotropin releasing factor (CRF). In 1981, Wylie Vale, a former Guillemin’s Ph Student, characterized CRF as 41 amino acid and cloned the CRF1 and CRF2 receptors. This paves the way to experimental studies establishing that the activation of the CRF signaling pathways in the brain plays a key role in mediating the stress-related endocrine, behavioral, autonomic and visceral responses. The unraveling of the biochemical coding of stress is rooted in Selye legacy continues to have increasing impact on the scientific community.]

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