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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 1996 Jul;28(7):721-38.

Tachykinins: receptor to effector.

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National Heart and Lung Institute (Imperial College), London, U.K.


Tachykinins belong to an evolutionarily conserved family of peptide neurotransmitters. The mammalian tachykinins include substance P, neurokinin A and neurokinin B, which exert their effects by binding to specific receptors. These tachykinin receptors are divided into three types, designated NK1, NK2 and NK3, respectively. Tachykinin receptors have been cloned and contain seven segments spanning the cell membrane, indicating their inclusion in the G-protein-linked receptor family. The continued development of selective agonists and antagonists for each receptor has helped elucidate roles for these mediators, ranging from effects in the central nervous system to the perpetuation of the inflammatory response in the periphery. Various selective ligands have shown both inter- and intraspecies differences in binding potencies, indicating distinct binding sites in the tachykinin receptor. The interaction of tachykinin with its receptor activates Gq, which in turn activates phospholipase C to break down phosphatidyl inositol bisphosphate into inositol trisphosphate (IP3) and diacylglycerol (DAG). IP3 acts on specific receptors in the sarcoplasmic reticulum to release intracellular stores of Ca2+, while DAG acts via protein kinase C to open L-type calcium channels in the plasma membrane. The rise in intracellular [Ca2+] induces the tissue response. With an array of actions as diverse as that seen with tachykinins, there is scope for numerous therapeutic possibilities. With the development of potent, selective non-peptide antagonists, there could be potential benefits in the treatment of a variety of clinical conditions, including chronic pain, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and asthma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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