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Therapeutic utility of non-peptidic CRF(1) receptor antagonists in anxiety, depression, and stress-related disorders: Evidence from animal models.

Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Sep 3;

Authors: Kehne JH, Cain CK

Adaptive responding to threatening stressors is of fundamental importance for survival. Dysfunctional hyperactivation of corticotropin releasing factor type-1 (CRF(1)) receptors in stress response system pathways is linked to stress-related psychopathology and CRF(1) receptor antagonists (CRAs) have been proposed as novel therapeutic agents. CRA effects in diverse animal models of stress that detect anxiolytics and/or antidepressants are reviewed, with the goal of evaluating their potential therapeutic utility in depression, anxiety, and other stress-related disorders. CRAs have a distinct phenotype in animals that has similarities to, and differences from, those of classic antidepressants and anxiolytics. CRAs are generally behaviorally silent, indicating that CRF(1) receptors are normally in a state of low basal activation. CRAs reduce stressor-induced HPA axis activation by blocking pituitary and possibly brain CRF(1) receptors which may ameliorate chronic stress-induced pathology. In animal models sensitive to anxiolytics and/or antidepressants, CRAs are generally more active in those with high stress levels, conditions which may maximize CRF(1) receptor hyperactivation. Clinically, CRAs have demonstrated good tolerability and safety, but have thus far lacked compelling efficacy in major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or irritable bowel syndrome. CRAs may be best suited for disorders in which stressors clearly contribute to the underlying pathology (e.g. posttraumatic stress disorder, early life trauma, withdrawal/abstinence from addictive substances), though much work is needed to explore these possibilities. An evolving literature exploring the genetic, developmental and environmental factors linking CRF(1) receptor dysfunction to stress-related psychopathology is discussed in the context of improving the translational value of current animal models.

PMID: 20826181 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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