Urocortins (Ucn) 1, 2 and 3, human homologues of fish urotensin I, form the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) family, together with CRF, urotensin I and sauvagine. Ucn 3 is a novel member of this family and is a specific ligand for CRF type 2 receptor. CRF type 2 receptor is thought to mediate the stress-coping responses, such as anxiolysis, anorexia, vasodilatation, a positive inotropic action on myocardium and dearousal. Endogenous ligands for the CRF type 2 receptor expressed in the cardiovascular tissues, such as the myocardium, have long been unknown. We have shown expression of Ucn 3 as well as Ucn 1 in the human heart. Ucn 3 is also expressed in the kidney, particularly distal tubules. Studies in various rat tissues showed that high concentrations of immunoreactive Ucn 3 were found in the pituitary gland, adrenal gland, gastrointestinal tract, ovary and spleen in addition to the brain, heart and kidney. These observations suggest that Ucn 3 is expressed in various tissues including heart and kidney, and may regulate the circulation in certain aspects of stress and diseases, such as inflammation. Ucn 1 and 3 appear to have important pathophysiological roles in some cardiovascular diseases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas