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Front Pharmacol. 2013 Sep 9;4:110. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2013.00110.

Reduced brain somatostatin in mood disorders: a common pathophysiological substrate and drug target?

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Department of Psychiatry, Center for Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


Our knowledge of the pathophysiology of affect dysregulation has progressively increased, but the pharmacological treatments remain inadequate. Here, we summarize the current literature on deficits in somatostatin, an inhibitory modulatory neuropeptide, in major depression and other neurological disorders that also include mood disturbances. We focus on direct evidence in the human postmortem brain, and review rodent genetic and pharmacological studies probing the role of the somatostatin system in relation to mood. We also briefly go over pharmacological developments targeting the somatostatin system in peripheral organs and discuss the challenges of targeting the brain somatostatin system. Finally, the fact that somatostatin deficits are frequently observed across neurological disorders suggests a selective cellular vulnerability of somatostatin-expressing neurons. Potential cell intrinsic factors mediating those changes are discussed, including nitric oxide induced oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, high inflammatory response, high demand for neurotrophic environment, and overall aging processes. Together, based on the co-localization of somatostatin with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), its presence in dendritic-targeting GABA neuron subtypes, and its temporal-specific function, we discuss the possibility that deficits in somatostatin play a central role in cortical local inhibitory circuit deficits leading to abnormal corticolimbic network activity and clinical mood symptoms across neurological disorders.


GABA inhibition; SOM; SRIF; SST; depression; mood disorders; somatostatin; somatostatin-expressing interneurons

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