What is HPA axis dysfunction?
HPA Axis Dysfunction. The HPA axis is a complicated set of relationships and signals that exist between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenals. This relationship is an absolutely indispensable part of our existence.
The hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis is our central stress response system. The HPA axis is an eloquent and every-dynamic intertwining of the central nervous system and endocrine system. This system works in a fairly straight-forward manner.
- The hypothalamic–pituitary–thyroid axis (HPT axis for short, a.k.a. thyroid homeostasis or thyrotropic feedback control) is part of the neuroendocrine system responsible for the regulation of metabolism.
- Hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis. The hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis (HPG axis) refers to the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and gonadal glands as if these individual endocrine glands were a single entity. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is secreted from the hypothalamus by GnRH-expressing neurons.
- Adrenal glands: Two glands that sit on top of the kidneys that release the hormone cortisol. Hypothalamus: A part of the lower middle brain that tells the pituitary gland when to release hormones. Ovaries: The female reproductive organs that release eggs and produce sex hormones.
Adrenal insufficiency is a condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce adequate amounts of steroid hormones, primarily cortisol; but may also include impaired production of aldosterone (a mineralocorticoid), which regulates sodium conservation, potassium secretion, and water retention.
- Cortisol receptor sites and cortisol secretion from the adrenal cortex increase. Anabolic steroid use decreases testosterone secretion. People who stop taking steroids are also hampered with less male hormone than usual during the "off" periods. (3) Cortisol suppresses the immune system.
- Steroid drugs, such as prednisone, work by lowering the activity of the immune system. The immune system is your body's defense system. Steroids work by slowing your body's response to disease or injury. Prednisone can help lower certain immune-related symptoms, including inflammation and swelling.
- Steroids work by decreasing inflammation and reducing the activity of the immune system. Inflammation is a process in which the body's white blood cells and chemicals can protect against infection and foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses.
The combined system of CRH-ACTH-cortisol release is referred to as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (or HPA axis). The ultimate result of the HPA axis activation is to increase levels of cortisol in the blood during times of stress.
- This may affect the health of digestive system and cause ulcers. Adrenaline released during a stress response may also cause ulcers. Stress responses increase strain upon circulatory system due to increased heart rate etc. Stress can also affect the immune system by raising blood pressure.
- At the same time that your adrenaline system is firing, corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) is released from a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. This triggers a chain reaction which results in the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, from the adrenal gland.
- A cortisol level test uses a blood sample to measure the level of cortisol present in your blood. Cortisol is a steroid hormone released by the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys. A cortisol level test may also be called a serum cortisol test.
Updated: 4th November 2019