Major depression, with its strikingly high prevalence, is the most common cause of disability in communities of Western type, according to data of the World Health Organization. Stress-related mood disorders, besides their deleterious effects on the patient itself, also challenge the healthcare systems with their great social and economic impact. Our knowledge on the neurobiology of these conditions is less than sufficient as exemplified by the high proportion of patients who do not respond to currently available medications targeting monoaminergic systems. The search for new therapeutical strategies became therefore a "hot topic" in neuroscience, and there is a large body of evidence suggesting that brain neuropeptides not only participate is stress physiology, but they may also have clinical relevance. Based on data obtained in animal studies, neuropeptides and their receptors might be targeted by new candidate neuropharmacons with the hope that they will become important and effective tools in the management of stress related mood disorders. In this review, we attempt to summarize the latest evidence obtained using animal models for mood disorders, genetically modified rodent models for anxiety and depression, and we will pay some attention to previously published clinical data on corticotropin releasing factor, urocortin 1, urocortin 2, urocortin 3, arginine-vasopressin, neuropeptide Y, pituitary adenylate-cyclase activating polypeptide, neuropeptide S, oxytocin, substance P and galanin fields of stress research.
Keywords: AVP; CRF; GAL; NPS; NPY; OXY; PACAP; SP; UCN1; UCN2; UCN3.
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