Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 4: Biological Basis of Stress-Related Diseases
Maria-Alexandra Magiakou and George P. Chrousos Introduction ‘Stress’ is a state of disharmony or threatened homeostasis. The concepts of stress and homeostasis can be traced back to ancient Greek history, however, the integration of these notions with related physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms and their association with speciﬁc illnesses are much more recent (Chrousos and Gold, 1992). Life exists by maintaining a complex dynamic equilibrium or homeostasis that is constantly challenged by intrinsic or extrinsic adverse forces, the stressors (Chrousos and Gold, 1992). Under favorable conditions and under the inﬂuence of controllable stressors, individuals can be involved in pleasurable functions that enhance their emotional and intellectual growth and development and the survival of their species. In contrast, activation of the stress response during threatening situations that are beyond the control of the individual can be associated with dysphoria and eventually mental and/or somatic disease (Chrousos, 1992; Tsigos and Chrousos, 1994, 2002). Both physical and emotional stressors set into motion central and peripheral physiological responses designed to preserve homeostasis (Table 4.1) (Chrousos and Gold, 1992). Hence every element of the stress response, including that originating from an inﬂammatory/immune reaction, must briskly respond to restraining forces, otherwise these responses will lose their adaptive quality and contribute to the process of pathological change. Stress system physiology and regulation of the stress response The stress system is deﬁned as a discrete, dedicated system evolved speciﬁcally for the coordination of the general adaptation response. Its two principal components are the corticotrophin-releasing...
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