The pharmacological effects (i.e., inhibition of endocrine secretion and cell proliferation) mediated by the hormone somatostatin (SRIF) are derived from its universal high-affinity binding to five different G proteincoupled receptors (GPCRs), named sst1-5. However, SRIF has a half-life of less than 3 min, whereas the available mono- and bi-specific SRIF preferential analogs show prolonged half-life and increased potency. These compounds may control tumor development, cell proliferation and metastatization by direct actions, including cell division arrest in G0/G1 phase (i.e., induction of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27kip1 or p21Cip1), induction of apoptosis (i.e., induction of p53 and Bax) and suppression of cell invasion. Along with these direct actions on the biology of cancer progression, in vivo SRIF analogs may also regulate tumor growth through indirect actions, by suppressing the secretion of growth-promoting hormones and growth factors and angiogenesis. Interestingly, when ssts are co-expressed, they may interact forming homo- or heterodimers, also with other GPCRs such as type 2 dopamine receptor and the μ-opioid receptor 1, altering their original pharmacological and functional properties. Dimers can be not only constitutive, but perhaps also ligandpromoted: hence, compounds with high affinity for different ssts isoforms may be used to achieve effects elicited by specific dimers. Future developments in the knowledge of ssts dynamics upon SRIF and SRIF analogs binding in neoplastic tissues may allow the full elucidation of the pathophysiological role of this system and the exploitation of the therapeutic potential of its modulation.
Keywords: Angiogenesis in cancer, cancer cell proliferation, metastatization, somatostatin, somatostatin analogs in cancer, somatostatin receptors in cancer