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Amino Acids. 2006 Oct;31(3):231-9. Epub 2006 May 29.

Galanin as a modulator of anxiety and depression and a therapeutic target for affective disease.

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Laboratory of Clinical and Translational Science, National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, U.S.A.


Galanin is a 29 amino-acid (30 in humans) neuropeptide with a close functional relationship with neurotransmitter systems implicated in the pathophysiology and treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. In rodent models of depression-related behavior, treatment with galanin or compounds with agonist actions at galanin receptors has been shown to affect depression-related behaviors and the behavioral and neurochemical effects of antidepressants. Treatment with clinically efficacious antidepressants alters galanin and galanin receptor gene expression in rodents. Rodent anxiety-like behaviors appear to be modulated by galanin in a complex manner, with studies showing either increases, decreases and no effects of galanin treatments and galanin mutations on anxiety-like behavior in various tasks. One concept to emerge from this literature is that galanin recruitment during extreme behavioral and physiological provocations such as stress and opiate withdrawal may serve to attenuate negative emotional states caused by noradrenergic hyperactivation. The specific galanin receptor subtypes mediating the anxiety- and depression-related effects of galanin remains to be determined, with evidence supporting a possible contribution of GalR1, GalR2 and GalR3. While our understanding of the role of galanin as a modulator of emotion remains at an early stage, recent progress in this rapidly evolving field raise possibility of that galanin may represent a target for the development of novel antidepressant and anxiolytic drug treatments.

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