Catecholamines, stress, and disease: A psychobiological perspective

Richard McCarty, Paul E. Gold

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Objective: Research on the relationship between physiological responses to stressful stimulation and the onset of psychosomatic illness has been an area of intense interest for many years. Studies using animal models have contributed significantly to this field of inquiry by taking several complementary approaches. Method: Three specific research strategies taken in our laboratory will be highlighted here. Each involves studies in conscious, freely behaving animals. Results: Genetically selected animals have been exposed to acute stressors to unmask neuroendocrine and autonomic abnormalities related to disease susceptibility. In addition, studies of aged animals suggest that exaggerated physiological responses to acute stress may underlie some age-related pathologies. Finally, a series of studies has revealed that exposure of laboratory animals to stressful stimulation may exert long-lasting influences on the ways in which these subjects respond in the future to the same or novel stressors. Conclusions: These findings illustrate how studies with laboratory animals have the potential for refining the questions that are posed in research with clinical populations and for providing insight into the underlying physiological mechanisms of individual variability in disease susceptibility and the development of appropriate therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)590-597
Number of pages8
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • aging
  • epinephrine
  • experimental hypertension
  • habituation
  • norepinephrine
  • sensitization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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