Neuroendocrine control of stress

As a stress neurobiologist and neuroendocrinologist, my research interests concern the CNS role of neuropeptides, eg. nociceptin and opioids, with respect  to integrated neural, hormonal and behavioural responses to stress. A major focus of this research, supported by the BBSRC, Wellcome Trust and Royal Society, has been the role of nociceptin and neuropeptide receptors in the regulation of limbic-hypothalamic stress response pathways and immune system homeostasis.

Recent studies have involved investigations of the interaction of nociceptin neurones with neuroendocrine mechanisms relevant to stress, the role of endogenous nociceptin in the integration of limbic circuits and bed nucleus neuronal activity and in the relationship between anxiety and HPA axis responses. Additionally I am interested in how early life environment influences maturation and expression of those central neurotransmitter/ neuropeptide systems involved in adult stress responses and behaviour. This research aims to understand the neurobiological basis of emotionality.

Recent publications

  • Dawe K., Wakerley J.B. & Fulford A.J. (2010) Nociceptin/orphanin FQ and the regulation of neuronal excitability in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis: interaction with glucocorticoids. Stress, 13:516-27.
  • Fulford A.J. (2010) Early environmental stress, separation models and neurobiological development. In Handbook of Stress: Neuropsychological Effects on the Brain (Ed. C. Conrad, Arizona), Wiley Blackwells. In press.
  • Leggett J.D., Dawe K., Jessop D. and Fulford A.J. (2009) Endogenous nociceptin/orphanin FQ system involvement in HPA axis responses: relevance to models of inflammation. J. Neuroendocrinology, 21: 888-897.
  • Leggett JD, Jessop D.S. and Fulford A.J. (2007) The nociceptin/orphanin FQ antagonist UFP-101 differentially modulates the glucocorticoid response to restraint stress in rats during the peak and nadir phases of the HPA axis circadian rhythm. Neuroscience 147: 757-764.
  • Miller T.R. and Fulford A.J. (2007) Regulation of Nociceptin/Orphanin FQ release by immune cells and functional modulation of interleukin-2. Peptides, 28: 2243-2252.
  • Fulford A.J. and Marsden C.A. (2007) An intact dopaminergic system is required for conditioned release of 5-HT in the nucleus accumbens of postweaning isolation-reared rats. Neuroscience, 149: 392-400.
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