Concept Of Allostasis

A new concept called allostasis has evolved in order to encompass the various degrees and outcomes of stress responses across species. Allostasis is a process that supports homeostasis in which stability is achieved through change.[3] Thus, the physiological parameters change as environments and other life history stages change. Allo-stasis involves the whole brain and body and is regulated by the brain's attempt to alter and sustain behavioral and physiological adjustments in response to changing environments and challenges. Thus, the concept of allostasis incorporates the adaptive function of regulating homeo-kinetic responses to the pathological effects of the inability to adapt.[5]

An allostatic state leads to an imbalance of the primary mediators of allostasis (i.e., glucocorticoids, catecholamines), overproduction of some and underproduction of others.[6] Allostatic load is the cumulative effect of an allostatic state. Allostatic load can increase dramatically if additional loads of unpredictable events in the environment occur in addition to adaptive responses to seasonal or other demands. In essence, the mediators of allostasis are protective and adaptive, thus increasing survival and health.[3] However, they can be damaging.

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