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Med Res Rev. 2014 Jan;34(1):77-105. doi: 10.1002/med.21277. Epub 2013 Feb 11.

Relaxin: new pathophysiological aspects and pharmacological perspectives for an old protein.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Messina, Via Consolare Valeria, 1, 98100, Italy.


Human relaxin-2 (hereafter simply defined as "relaxin") is a 6-kDa peptidic hormone best known for the physiological role played during pregnancy in the growth and differentiation of the reproductive tract and in the renal and systemic hemodynamic changes. This factor can also be involved in the pathophysiology of arterial hypertension and heart failure, in the molecular pathways of fibrosis and cancer, and in angiogenesis and bone remodeling. It belongs to the relaxin peptide family, whose members comprehensively exert numerous effects through interaction with different types of receptors, classified as relaxin family peptide (RXFP) receptors (RXFP1, RXFP2, RXFP3, RXFP4). Research looks toward the in-depth examination and complete understanding of relaxin in its various pleiotropic actions. The intent is to evaluate the likelihood of employing this substance for therapeutic purposes, for instance in diseases where a deficit could be part of the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms, also avoiding any adverse effect. Relaxin is already being considered as a promising drug, especially in acute heart failure. A careful study of the different RXFPs and their receptors and the comprehension of all biological activities of these hormones will probably provide new drugs with a potential wide range of therapeutic applications in the near future.


new drugs; pleiotropic hormone; relaxin; relaxin family peptide (RXFP) receptors

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