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Pharmacol Ther. 1998 Aug;79(2):89-104.

Mechanisms of regulation of neurotensin receptors.

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Laboratory of Pharmacology, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.


Since its discovery in 1973, the neuropeptide neurotensin has been demonstrated to be involved in the control of a broad variety of physiological activities in both the central nervous system and in the periphery. Pharmacological studies have shown that the biological effects elicited by neurotensin result from its specific binding to cell membrane neurotensin receptors that have been characterized in various tissue and in cell preparations. In addition, it is now well documented that most of these responses are subject to rapid desensitization. Such desensitization results in transient responses to sustained peptide applications, or to tachyphylaxis during successive stimulations in the same conditions. More recently, desensitization of neurotensin signalling was investigated at the cellular and molecular levels. In cultured cells, regulation at the second messenger level, receptor internalization, and receptor down-regulation processes have been reported. These are proposed to play a critical role in the control of cell responsiveness to neurotensin. This review aims to compile recent data on the different biochemical processes involved in the regulation of the neurotensin receptor and to discuss the physiological consequences of this regulation in vivo.

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