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Dig Liver Dis. 2004 Feb;36 Suppl 1:S68-77.

Somatostatin receptor distribution and function in immune system.

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Department of Endocrinological and Metabolic Sciences (Di.S.E.M.), University of Genova, Viale Benedetto XV 6, Genoa 16132, Italy.


Somatostatin and cortistatin, a recently discovered endogenous neuropeptide relative of somatostatin, have multiple modulatory effects on the immune system. The specific somatostatin receptor distribution might in part explain the heterogeneity of effects of somatostatin or its analogs on immunocytes. In fact, somatostatin receptor subtypes are differentially expressed on specific cell subsets within the organs of the immune system and the expression is dynamically regulated and seems to depend on the traffic of these cells through and within lymphoid structure and homing in tissues. Somatostatin effects on immune cells are mainly based on autocrine and paracrine modes of action. In fact, activated cells producing somatostatin (or cortistatin) may interact with other cells expressing the receptors. Here, we review the postulated modes of action of somatostatin and somatostatin-like peptides, including the currently available synthetic somatostatin analogs, in cells of the immune system. We also discuss the wide distribution of somatostatin and its specific five receptor subtypes in immune cell lines, as well as throughout animal and human lymphoid organs, in both normal and pathological conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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