Cedars-Sinai Medical Center study identifies for the first time a molecular mechanism behind hormonal response to stress

LOS ANGELES (June 8, 1999) -- A two-year study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has culminated in the discovery of a molecular mechanism that transduces stress signals from the brain to other regions of the body. These stress signals are produced in response to physical or psychological trauma.

The molecule--leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF)--is the connecting interface between the hypothalamus, the endocrine regulatory center within the brain, and the glands that constitute the endocrine system.

"This is the first documentation of how a novel regulatory cytokine molecule, which is synthesized in the brain, responds and acts appropriately to regulate the release of the pituitary corticotropin (ACTH) hormone, which controls adrenal corticosteroid hormones," explained lead investigator Shlomo Melmed, M.D., director, Cedars-Sinai Research Institute, and senior vice president, Academic Affairs, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "LIF acts as an 'on-off' switch, communicating to the endocrine system to produce ACTH, which is secreted by the pituitary to release adrenal steroids. The intrapituitary molecule, suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS-3), responds to LIF within the pituitary, allowing very fine tuning of the pituitary response to brain and peripheral signals."

This important discovery, which will be published in the June 7, 1999 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will provide a tool for researchers studying the endocrine responses that modulate the protection against sepsis (blood-borne infections), shock and inflammation, Dr. Melmed explained. "The stress response to these illnesses protects against the body being overwhelmed by immune or inflammatory insult."

LIF is one of the central triggers from the brain to release hormones in response to acute and chronic illness, trauma, shock, acute and chronic infection and a myriad of other inflammatory conditions, including arthritis and lupus. The endocrine glands function as a co

Contact: Sandra Van
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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