Stress Research: Past, Present, and Future

Publication Type:

Book Chapter


Neuroscience in the 21st Century, Springer New York, p.1979-2007 (2013)



DOI Name (links to online publication)



This chapter starts with highlighting the evolution of the stress concept and the discovery of mediators that coordinate stress adaptation. Next, progress in the unraveling of the mechanism underlying the action of these stress mediators is discussed, focusing on glucocorticoids as the end product of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. This action exerted by the glucocorticoids is mediated by a dual receptor system: mineralocorticoid (MR) and glucocorticoid receptors (GR). With these receptors as leading theme we present five highlights that illustrate the serendipitous nature of stress research. These five highlights are integrated in the final section which culminates in reflections on the role of stress in mental health. In these reflections we merge the mind-boggling complexity of molecular signaling pathways with neuroendocrine communication integrating body and brain functions. The new insights will be used during the next decennium to target, in an individual-specific fashion, the stress system with the objective to enhance the quality of life.