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The Corticotropin-Releasing Factor (CRF) Family of Neuropeptides in Inflammation: Potential Therapeutic Applications

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Hypothalamic CRF plays a central role in the coordination of endocrine and behavioral responses to stress and it is also involved in the pathophysiology of several neuropsychiatric diseases including depression, anxiety and addiction. In the mammals, the CRF family of peptides includes CRF, urocortin (Ucn), Ucn I, and Ucn II while was enriched with new members, the urocortins. Their biological effects are mediated by the CRF1 and CRF2 receptors, which belong to the G-protein-coupled receptor super family. Multiple research groups have demonstrated during the last decade the expression of the CRF peptides and their receptors in several components of the immune system and their participation in the ad hoc regulation of inflammatory phenomena. Non-peptide CRF1 antagonists have been recently synthesized for the treatment of CNS related diseases, such as anxiety, depression and drug abuse. In the gastrointestinal tract, these compounds open new therapeutic options in the treatment of lower-GI inflammatory diseases associated to CRF, such as the chronic inflammatory bowel syndromes, irritable bowel disease and ulcerative colitis while Ucn, Ucn I, Ucn II or synthetic non-peptide CRF2 agonists may be useful in the treatment of upper-GI inflammatory diseases. In human endometrium, CRF1 antagonists may be used as abortive agents interfering with the inflammatory phenomena taking place during the implantation of the conceptus. They thus may represent a new class of nonsteroidal inhibitors of implantation. These two examples illustrate the potential therapeutic significance of the CRH in regulating inflammatory phenomena in an ad hoc approach without affecting the rest of the immune system.

Keywords: crf; crf antagonists; inflammation; macrophages; urocortin

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, 71110, Greece.

Publication date: 2005-06-01

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