Links between HPA axis and adipokines: clinical implications in paradigms of stress-related disorders

Panagiota Papargyri, Evangelia Zapanti, Nicolaos Salakos, Loukas, Papargyris, Alexandra Bargiota & George MASTORAKOS


Introduction: In the human organism, a constant interplay exists between the stress system [which includes the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis] and the adipose tissue. This interplay is mediated by hormones of the HPA axis such as corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and glucocorticoids (GCs) and adipokines secreted by the adipose tissue. Areas covered: In this critical review, the bi-directional interactions between HPA axis and the most studied adipokines such as leptin and adiponectin, as well as the pro-inflammatory adipocytokines tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin (IL) 6 are presented. Furthermore, these interactions are described in normalcy as well as in specific clinical paradigms of stress-related disorders such as eating disorders, hypothalamic amenorrhea, and stress-related endogenous hypercortisolism states. Wherever new therapeutic strategies emerge, they are presented accordingly. Expert commentary: Additional research is needed to clarify the mechanisms involved in the interplay between the HPA axis and the adipose tissue. Research should be focused, in particular, on the development of new therapeutic means targeting dysfunctional adipose tissue in stress-related situations.