Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:

Stress hormones and brain aging: adding injury to insult?


Glucocorticoids are known to promote the death of neurons in a variety of experimental systems. A new study suggests that they may also contribute to hippocampal atrophy during normal human aging.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: The glucocorticoid hypothesis of cognitive decline in aging.
Figure 2


  1. Coleman, P. & Flood, D. Neurobiol. Aging 8, 521–545 (1987)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. DeToledo-Morrell, L., Geinisman, Y. & Morrell, F. Neurobiol. Aging 9, 581– 590 (1988)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Barnes, C.A. Trends. Neurosci. 17, 8–13 (1994 )

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Squire, L.R. Psychol. Rev. 99, 195–231 (1992)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. McEwen, B.S., De Kloet, E.R. & Rostene, W. Physiol. Rev. 66, 1121– 1188 (1986)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Landfield, P., Waymire, J. & Lynch, G. Science 202, 1098–1102 (1978)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Landfield, P., Baskin, R.K. & Pitler, T.A. Science 214, 581– 583 (1981)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Meaney, M.J., Aitken, D.H., Van Berkel, C., Bhatnagar, S. & Sapolsky, R.M. Science 239, 766– 768 (1988)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Landfield, P.W. & Eldridge, J.C. Neurobiol. Aging 15, 579–588 (1994)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Sapolsky, R.M. Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 746, 294–304 (1994)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Reagan, L.P. & McEwen, B.S. J. Chem. Neuroanat. 13, 149–167 (1997)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Joels, M. & De Kloet, E.R. Prog. Neurobiol. 43, 1–36 (1994)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Maguire, E.A., Frackowiak, R.S.J. & Frith, C.D. J. Neurosci. 17, 7103– 7110 (1997)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Gallagher, M. et al. Science 274, 484–485 (1996)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. McConkey, D.J. & Orrenius, S. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Comm. 239, 357–366 (1997)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Landfield, P.W., Thibault, O., Mazzanti, M.L., Porter, N.M. & Kerr, D.S. J. Neurobiol. 23, 1247–1260 (1992)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Simpkins, J.W., Singh, M. & Bishop, J. Neurobiol. Aging 15, S195– 197 (1994)

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Porter, N., Landfield, P. Stress hormones and brain aging: adding injury to insult?. Nat Neurosci 1, 3–4 (1998).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing