Department of Endocrinology, St Bartholomew's Hospital, London EC1A 7BE RECEIVED 29 January 1988
During the last 50 years, the role of adrenergic mechanisms in the control of secretion of corticotrophin (ACTH) has aroused much interest but little consensus. In view of recent advances in our understanding of the anatomy and physiology of catecholamine systems and improvements in pharmacological and experimental techniques, it has become possible to offer explanations or alternative interpretations for some of the apparently contradictory data. A clearer picture is emerging, although hazy areas remain.
A close anatomical relationship exists between the central adrenergic and noradrenergic systems and the major hypothalamic peptides that are involved in the regulation of ACTH secretion, corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF-41) and vasopressin. The cell bodies of the catecholaminergic neurones that innervate the parvocellular neurones of the paraventricular nucleus are found in the brain stem (Ungerstedt, 1971; Sawchenko