Adrenals are known to support the “fight or flight” response in humans, as they secrete hormones such as epinephrine or in layman's terms, adrenaline. This has been known and studied since the the early 1900’s. In 1974, Hans Selye is quoted by defining stress medically as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand upon it”1.
Another response to stress that the adrenals have on the body is the “CLOCK system” 2. This is the circadian rhythm of the human body, with the adrenals normaling secreting more cortisol in the early morning as a method for us to wake up. CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone) and AVP (arginine vasopressin) are directly affected by acute stress, as the amplitude and desynchronization of their secretion are both increased 2. If both are affected in this way with stress, this may cause the adrenals to secreted more “stress hormone” in both higher volumes and throughout longer periods of the day, both of which are disadvantageous to the body. Glucocorticoids are the last step of hormonal effectors of the HPA axis. Stress and its responses, may cause the glucocorticoids to transactivate, which would have an inflammatory response on the body 2. This transactivation might have the most adverse effect, as this affects the receptors abilities to regulate stability and nuclear localization, along with protein interaction 2. This effect causes specific proteins for mRNA stabilization and electrical potentials in neuronal cells to be altered. This may also feed into the ACTH feedback loop, and cause the hypothalamus to secrete more hormones, which directly causes adrenals to over secrete.
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Goldstein DS. Adrenal Responses to Stress. Cellular and molecular neurobiology. 2010;30(8):1433-1440. doi:10.1007/s10571-010-9606-9.
Tsigos C, Kyrou I, Kassi E, et al. Stress, Endocrine Physiology and Pathophysiology. [Updated 2016 Mar 10]. In: De Groot LJ, Chrousos G, Dungan K, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000
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