Lifelong effects of stress

A 2016 commentary A trilogy of glucocorticoid receptor actions on two 2015 French rodent studies started out:

“Glucocorticoids (GCs) belong to a class of endogenous, stress-stimulated steroid hormones..they have wide ranging physiologic effects capable of impacting metabolism, immunity, development, stress, cognition, and arousal.

GCs exert their cellular effects by binding to the GC receptor (GR), one of a 48-member (in humans) nuclear receptor superfamily of ligand-activated transcription factors.”

The French studies were exceedingly technical. The first GR SUMOylation and formation of an SUMO-SMRT/NCoR1-HDAC3 repressing complex is mandatory for GC-induced IR nGRE-mediated transrepression:

“GCs acting through binding to the GR are peripheral effectors of circadian and stress-related homeostatic functions fundamental for survival.

Unveils, at the molecular level, the mechanisms that underlie the GC-induced GR direct transrepression function mediated by the evolutionary conserved inverted repeated negative response element. This knowledge paves the way to the elucidation of the functions of the GR at the submolecular levels and to the future educated design and screening of drugs, which could be devoid of undesirable debilitating effects on prolonged GC therapy.”

The companion study Glucocorticoid-induced tethered transrepression requires SUMOylation of GR and formation of a SUMO-SMRT/NCoR1-HDAC3 repressing complex stated:

“GCs have been widely used to combat inflammatory and allergic disorders. However, multiple severe undesirable side effects associated with long-term GC treatments, as well as induction of glucocorticoid resistance associated with such treatments, limit their therapeutic usefulness.”

It’s funny that even when researchers study causes, they often justify their efforts in terms of outcomes that address effects. Is an etiologic advancement in science somehow unsatisfactory in and of itself?


Once in a while I get a series of personal revelations while reading scientific publications. Paradoxically, understanding aspects of myself has seldom been sufficient to address historical problems.

Thoughts are only where some of the effects of problems show up, and clarifying my understanding can – at most – tamp down these effects. The causes are elsewhere, and addressing them at the source is what ultimately needs to happen.

A few glucocorticoid-related items to ponder:

  • How has stress impacted my life? When and where did it start?
  • Why do I feel wonderful after taking prednisone or other anti-inflammatories? What may be the originating causes of such effects?
  • Why have prolonged periods of my life been characterized by muted responses to stress? How did I get that way?
  • Have I really understood why I put myself into stressful situations? What will break me out of that habit?
  • Why do the feelings I experience while under stressful situations feel familiar? Does my unconsciousness of their origins have something to do with “homeostatic functions fundamental for survival?”
  • Why haven’t I noticed that symptoms of stress keep showing up in my life? There are “physiologic effects capable of impacting metabolism, immunity,” etc. but I don’t do something about it?
  • How else may stress impact my biology? Brain functioning? Ideas? Behavior?
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