How Can We Model the Regulation of Stress Hormones?

Daily and monthly rhythms of hormones are well recognised.  Less well known are the more rapid ultradian changes which are a characteristic of most biologically active hormone systems.  We have looked at the regulation of the stress hormones – glucocorticoids – secreted by the adrenal glands.  It has always been assumed that the episodic release of these hormones was a result of some form of pulse generator in the brain.  A dispassionate look at this system however, revealed that there was a feedforward:feedback relationship between the pituitary gland and the adrenal gland providing scope for a peripheral oscillating hormonal system.  The background to this system and the biological testing of our mathematical predictions will be described.

Stafford Lightman, University of Bristol, United Kingdom

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