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Vol. 13, No. 5-6, 2006
Issue release date: August 2007
Neuroimmunomodulation 2006;13:268–276

HPA and Immune Axes in Stress: Involvement of the Serotonergic System

Leonard B.E.
Pharmacology Department, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland; Brain and Behaviour Research Institute, Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, University of Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands

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Chronic stress, by initiating changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the immune system, acts as a trigger for anxiety and depression. There is experimental and clinical evidence that the rise in the concentration of pro-inflammatory cytokines and glucocorticoids, which occurs in a chronically stressful situation and also in depression, contributes to the behavioural changes associated with depression. A defect in serotonergic function is associated with these hormonal and immune changes. Neurodegenerative changes in the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and amygdalae are the frequent outcomes of the changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the immune system. Such changes may provide evidence for the link between chronic depression and dementia in later life.

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