Glucocorticoid dynamics: insights from mathematical, experimental and clinical studies

F. Spiga, J.J. Walker, R. Gupta, J.R. Terry, S.L. Lightman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


A pulsatile pattern of secretion is a characteristic of many hormonal systems, including the glucocorticoid-producing hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis. Despite recent evidence supporting its importance for behavioral, neuroendocrine and transcriptional effects of glucocorticoids, there has been a paucity of information regarding the origin of glucocorticoid pulsatility. In this review we discuss the mechanisms regulating pulsatile dynamics of the HPA axis, and how these dynamics become disrupted in disease. Our recent mathematical, experimental and clinical studies show that glucocorticoid pulsatility can be generated and maintained by dynamic processes at the level of the pituitary–adrenal axis, and that an intra-adrenal negative feedback may contribute to these dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)T55-T66
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number2
Early online date11 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


  • HPA axis
  • ultradian rhythms
  • glucocorticoids
  • adrenal cortex


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