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PREFACE

Neuroendocrine system in vertebrates is vital for supporting normal

physiological functioning. In general, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis

helps the organism to adapt to increased demands or challenges and maintains

homeostasis following exposure to various stressors. Different kinds of stressors,

whether environmental, metabolic and neural stressors as well as certain drugs,

pollutants and endocrine disruptors etc., invariably affect body physiology, hence

well-being of the individual. But its genesis and mechanism of effect is not fully

understood and thereby limiting its control. In general, most of the stressors affect

neuroendocrine system but downstream pathways implicated in most of the cases are

not fully investigated. The neuroendocrine response to stress is an excellent example

of a plastic system that responds to homeostasis and alters its output to meet current

and expected future demands. Stress can alter cognition, memory, cardiovascular

activity, glucose, protein and fat metabolism and hence may affect all the systems of a

vertebrate body. There are some types of stress that have life threatening effects while

other types if continue for a prolong period disturb homeostasis. On the other hand,

some lifesaving drugs may also have adverse effects on different organs and/ or

metabolic pathways. For example cyclophosphamide, a drug used in cancer

chemotherapy has adverse effect on germ cells. Similarly, radiation used in nuclear-

medicine has potential adverse effects too. Stress may deleteriously alter hormone

signaling and thus preventing its normal function.

Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis responds immediately to stress and

irrespective of its origin alters the output of classical stress hormones (CRH-ACTH-

Corticoids). It has been reported that CRH is the principal regulator of HPA axis.

However, osmotic stress specifically increases AVP level possibly in addition to


Preface

classic increase in CRH. But how the higher brain centre receives stress input and

what is the mechanism of stress effects/ responses is not yet clear in spite of enormous

literature on stress biology.

In an attempt to investigate the mechanism(s)/ downstream pathways of stress

responses, the study presented in this thesis investigates how different types of

stressors (environmental, metabolic and neural) affect HPA axis and whether their

effects are mediated through same or different mechanism(s).

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