Redefining neuroendocrinology: Epigenetics of brain-body communication over the life course.

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Frontiers in neuroendocrinology, ISSN: 1095-6808, Vol: 49, Page: 8-30

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McEwen, Bruce S
Elsevier BV
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The brain is the central organ of stress and adaptation to stress that perceives and determines what is threatening, as well as the behavioral and physiological responses to the stressor, and it does so somewhat differently in males and females. The expression of steroid hormone receptors throughout the brain has broadened the definition of 'neuroendocrinology' to include the reciprocal communication between the entire brain and body via hormonal and neural pathways. Mediated in part via systemic hormonal influences, the adult and developing brain possess remarkable structural and functional plasticity in response to stress, including neuronal replacement, dendritic remodeling, and synapse turnover. This article is both an account of an emerging field elucidating brain-body interactions at multiple levels, from molecules to social organization, as well as a personal account of my laboratory's role and, most importantly, the roles of trainees and colleagues, along with my involvement in interdisciplinary groups working on this topic.