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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2015, Article ID 458129, 10 pages
Review Article

The Janus Face of Stress on Reproduction: From Health to Disease

Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Experimental Medicine, Szigony 43, Budapest 1083, Hungary

Received 17 December 2014; Revised 17 March 2015; Accepted 20 March 2015

Academic Editor: Sabrina Corbetta

Copyright © 2015 Dóra Zelena. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Parenthood is a fundamental feature of all known life. However, infertility has been recognized as a public health issue worldwide. But even when the offspring are conceived, in utero problems can lead to immediate (abortion), early (birth), and late (adulthood) consequences. One of the most studied factors is stress. However, stress response is, per se, of adaptive nature allowing the organism to cope with challenges. Stressors lead to deterioration if one is faced with too long lasting, too many, and seemingly unsolvable situations. In stress adaptation the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenocortical axis and the resulting glucocorticoid elevation are one of the most important mechanisms. At cellular level stress can be defined as an unbalance between production of free radicals and antioxidant defenses. Oxidative stress is widely accepted as an important pathogenic mechanism in different diseases including infertility. On the other hand, the goal of free radical production is to protect the cells from infectious entities. This review aims to summarize the negative and positive influence of stress on reproduction as a process leading to healthy progeny. Special emphasis was given to the balance at the level of the organism and cells.