Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), the principal regulator of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, has been identified in various organ systems, including the immune and the female and male reproductive systems. CRH-like immunoreactivity has been reported in peripheral inflammatory sites and in a number of reproductive organs, including the ovaries, endometrial glands, decidualized endometrial stroma, placenta, decidua, and the testes. Therefore, "immune" and "reproductive" CRH are forms of "tissue" CRH; i.e., CRH found in peripheral tissues. Immune CRH plays a direct immunomodulatory role as an autocrine/paracrine mediator of inflammation. Immune CRH participates in several experimental inflammations and, in humans, in inflamed tissues from patients with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. One of the early effects of immune CRH is the degranulation of mast cells and the release of histamine and several inflammatory cytokines. Reproductive CRH is regulating reproductive functions with an inflammatory component, such as ovulation, luteolysis, decidualization, implantation, and early maternal tolerance. Placental CRH participates in the physiology of pregnancy and the onset of labor. Circulating placental CRH is responsible for the physiologic hypercortisolism of the latter half of pregnancy. Postpartum, this hypercortisolism is followed by a transient adrenal suppression, which may explain the blues/depression and increased autoimmune phenomena observed during this period.