Somatostatin was discovered four decades ago and since then its physiological role has been extensively investigated, first in relation with its inhibitory effect on growth hormone secretion but soon it expanded to extrapituitary actions influencing various stressresponsive systems. Somatostatin is expressed in distinct brain nuclei and binds to five somatostatin receptor subtypes which are also widely expressed in the brain with a distinct distribution pattern. The last few years witnessed the discovery of highly selective peptide somatostatin receptor agonists and antagonists representing valuable tools to delineate the respective pathways of somatostatin signaling. Here we review the centrally mediated actions of somatostatin and related selective somatostatin receptor subtype agonists to influence the endocrine, autonomic, and visceral components of the stress response and basal behavior as well as thermogenesis.
Keywords: Autonomic nervous system, fecal pellet output, food intake, gastrointestinal motility, octreotide, ODT8-SST, thermogenesis, somatostatin, growth hormone, stress response