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Prog Neurobiol. 1986;27(1):63-100.

Somatostatin in the central nervous system: physiology and pathological modifications.


Since its discovery, at the beginning of 1973, somatostatin's multiple actions, in relation to its wide anatomical distribution have been widely documented. Its biochemical pathways have been elucidated with the discovery of other molecular forms as well as the mechanisms of its neuronal release. However, no definite proof is available concerning a neurotransmitter role for any peptide of the somatostatin family other than somatostatin-14. The precise determination of the roles of somatostatin in brain are still hampered by the poor pharmacology of the peptide. New tools are badly needed and in particular a true antagonist at the receptor site. The mechanisms of action of somatostatin are now well under way at least in the pituitary model. More information should come from this model and be applied to brain cells in vitro. The greatest challenge of somatostatin brain function lies in its role in the pathophysiology of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's dementia and Huntington's disease. Nature has been using somatostatin-related molecules since inhibitory control was first needed in cell functions. Time will tell us if somatostatin is really an old peptide involved in senile dementia.

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