Corticotropin-releasing hormone improves survival in pneumococcal pneumonia by reducing pulmonary inflammation

Brittney Burnley, Harlan P. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The use of glucocorticoids to reduce inflammatory responses is largely based on the knowledge of the physiological action of the endogenous glucocorticoid, cortisol. Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) is a neuropeptide released from the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis of the central nervous system. This hormone serves as an important mediator of adaptive physiological responses to stress. In addition to its role in inducing downstream cortisol release that in turn regulates immune suppression, CRH has also been found to mediate inflammatory responses in peripheral tissues. Streptococcus pneumoniae is a microorganism commonly present among the commensal microflora along the upper respiratory tract. Transmission of disease stems from the resident asymptomatic pneumococcus along the nasal passages. Glucocorticoids are central mediators of immune suppression and are the primary adjuvant pharmacological treatment used to reduce inflammatory responses in patients with severe bacterial pneumonia. However, controversy exists in the effectiveness of glucocorticoid treatment in reducing mortality rates during S. pneumoniae infection. In this study, we compared the effect of the currently utilized pharmacologic glucocorticoid dexamethasone with CRH. Our results demonstrated that intranasal administration of CRH increases survival associated with a decrease in inflammatory cellular immune responses compared to dexamethasone independent of neutrophils. Thus, providing evidence of its use in the management of immune and inflammatory responses brought on by severe pneumococcal infection that could reduce mortality risks.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13000
JournalPhysiological Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Corticotropin-releasing hormone
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • glucocorticoids
  • inflammation
  • neuropeptides


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