Cholecystokinin-8 (CCK-8), the small peptide initially described as a gastric factor involved in the regulation of feeding behavior, is today recognized as one of the most abundant neurotransmitters/ neuropeptides in brain and is an important signal factor for the peripheral and central nervous systems. In the past twenty years, many studies have focused on possible clinical applications of this peptide and its receptor ligands in psychiatric diseases and gastrointestinal pathologies. Recently it has been suggested that CCK-8 may also have a neuroprotective role, thus opening a new field of interest around the physiology and the pharmacology of this neuropeptide and its receptors. It has been demonstrated that CCK-8 counteracts neuronal deficit following chemical or surgical lesions in both the central and peripheral nervous systems and that Nerve Growth factor (NGF) is involved in the CCK-induced recovery process. By using selective CCK receptor antagonists it has been demonstrated that CCK-8, when injected intraperitoneally, has the ability to stimulate NGF synthesis in brain and peripheral organs by a mechanism that involves the activation of CCK receptors. As has been widely reported, NGF is an essential survival and differentiative factor for selective neuronal populations of the PNS and CNS and plays a role in the events of degeneration and repair of the nervous system in diseases with different etiologies, e.g. neurodegenerative and autoimmune diseases as well as diabetes-associated pathologies. The possibility of using NGF in therapy has been evaluated and systemic and intracerebral NGF treatment have been tested in patients and animal models. Although the results of these studies are encouraging, the difficultly to predict and/or eliminate the side effects of NGF/NGF antibody treatment has made it difficult to fully evaluate the potential of the beneficial effects. In this context recent results obtained in our laboratories may offer a new prospective for the pharmacological approaches to the diseases associated with altered NGF production and functions. The data of our recent observations on NGF and CCK-8 is covered in this review.
Keywords: ngf, cck, nervous system, neuropathies, neurodegenerative diseases, therapy, G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs)
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