The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is central to homeostasis, stress responses, energy metabolism, and neuropsychiatric function. The history of this complex system involves discovery of the relevant glands (adrenal, pituitary, hypothalamus), hormones (cortisol, corticotropin, corticotropin-releasing hormone), and the receptors for these hormones. The adrenal and pituitary were identified by classical anatomists, but most of this history has taken place rather recently, and has involved complex chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, and clinical investigation. The integration of the HPA axis with modern neurology and psychiatry has cemented the role of endocrinology in contemporary studies of behavior.

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