Investigations of HPA function and the enduring consequences of stressors in adolescence in animal models

McCormick CM, Mathews IZ, Thomas C, Waters P

Brain Cogn 2010 Feb;72(1):73-85

PMID: 19616355


Developmental differences in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis responsiveness to stressors and ongoing development of glucocorticoid-sensitive brain regions in adolescence suggest that similar to the neonatal period of ontogeny, adolescence may also be a sensitive period for programming effects of stressors on the central nervous system. Although research on this period of life is scarce compared to early life and adulthood, the available research indicates that effects of stress exposure during adolescence differ from, and may be longer-lasting than, effects of the same stress exposure in adulthood. Research progress in animal models in this field is reviewed including HPA function and the enduring effects of stress exposures in adolescence on sensitivity to drugs of abuse, learning and memory, and emotional behaviour in adulthood. The effects of adolescent stress depend on a number of factors, including the age, gender, the duration of stress exposure, the type of stressor, and the time between stress exposure and testing.