Somatostatin, also known as somatotropin-release inhibitory factor, is a cyclopeptide that exerts potent inhibitory actions on hormone secretion and neuronal excitability. Its physiologic functions are mediated by five G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) called somatostatin receptor (SST)1-5. These five receptors share common structural features and signaling mechanisms but differ in their cellular and subcellular localization and mode of regulation. SST2 and SST5 receptors have evolved as primary targets for pharmacological treatment of pituitary adenomas and neuroendocrine tumors. In addition, SST2 is a prototypical GPCR for the development of peptide-based radiopharmaceuticals for diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. This review article summarizes findings published in the last 25 years on the physiology, pharmacology, and clinical applications related to SSTs. We also discuss potential future developments and propose a new nomenclature.
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