Hindbrain adrenergic/noradrenergic control of integrated endocrine and autonomic stress responses.
Hindbrain adrenergic/noradrenergic nuclei facilitate endocrine and autonomic responses to physical and psychological challenges. Neurons that synthesize adrenaline and noradrenaline target hypothalamic structures to modulate endocrine responses while descending spinal projections regulate sympathetic function. Furthermore, these neurons respond to diverse stress-related metabolic, autonomic, and psychosocial challenges. Accordingly, adrenergic and noradrenergic nuclei are integrative hubs that promote physiological adaptation to maintain homeostasis. However, the precise mechanisms through which adrenaline- and noradrenaline-synthesizing neurons sense interoceptive and exteroceptive cues to coordinate physiological responses have yet to be fully elucidated. Additionally, the regulatory role of these cells in the context of chronic stress has received limited attention. This mini-review consolidates reports from pre-clinical rodent studies on the organization and function of brainstem adrenaline and noradrenaline cells to provide a framework for how these nuclei coordinate endocrine and autonomic physiology. This includes identification of hindbrain adrenaline- and noradrenaline-producing cell groups and their role in stress responding through neurosecretory and autonomic engagement. Although temporally and mechanistically distinct, the endocrine and autonomic stress axes are complementary and interconnected. Therefore, the interplay between brainstem adrenergic/noradrenergic nuclei and peripheral physiological systems is necessary for integrated stress responses and organismal survival.
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