What is needed by the body to free up energy stores in response to stress?

1 Answer
Jul 11, 2016

The 'stress hormone' cortisol.


Environmental stressors signal the hypothalamus to secrete corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) among other hormones. CRH in turn stimulates the anterior pituitary to produce corticotropin which then stimulates the production of cortisol.

Cortisol is a hormone that is primary responsible for the stress response. The main function of cortisol is increasing the glucose levels by:

  • stimulating gluconeogenesis
  • stimulation glycogen synthesis in the liver
  • inhibiting insulin (insulin usually lowers blood glucose levels)

Cortisol also inhibits the production of CRH (feedback inhibition) to limit the stress response. This is a delicate balance that can be disrupted in case of chronic levels of high stress. In that case the feedback inhibition is less functional, leading to the continued release of cortisol.