Ageing and the HPA axis

The background provided above is necessary for understanding the potential influence of ageing on the HPA axis and its associated tight network of other neuroendocrine reactions. One may ask whether this system is ageing by what might be called a 'normal' age-related process or if the wear and tear of today's complex, hectic living conditions are involved. As will be seen, it is difficult to separate these two factors.

In order to separate out the effects of a 'normal' ageing process from the effects of external factors, one would have to examine the HPA axis and its associated cascade of reactions in other neuroendocrine and autonomic systems in older subjects who have not been exposed to the wear and tear of life. This is of course not possible even ifone were to find a population totally separated from modern, urbanized life, because there are always surrounding factors which activate our stress systems.

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