Relaxin family peptide systems and the central nervous system

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2010 Jul;67(14):2327-41. doi: 10.1007/s00018-010-0304-z. Epub 2010 Mar 7.


Since its discovery in the 1920s, relaxin has enjoyed a reputation as a peptide hormone of pregnancy. However, relaxin and other relaxin family peptides are now associated with numerous non-reproductive physiologies and disease states. The new millennium bought with it the sequence of the human genome and subsequently new directions for relaxin research. In 2002, the ancestral relaxin gene RLN3 was identified from genome databases. The relaxin-3 peptide is highly expressed in a small region of the brain and in species from teleost to primates and has both conserved sequence and sites of expression. Combined with the discovery of the relaxin family peptide receptors, interest in the role of the relaxin family peptides in the central nervous system has been reignited. This review explores the relaxin family peptides that are expressed in or act upon the brain, the receptors that mediate their actions, and what is currently known of their functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Endocrine System / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Peptide / metabolism*
  • Relaxin / metabolism*


  • Neuropeptides
  • RLN3 protein, human
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Peptide
  • relaxin receptors
  • Relaxin