Sunday, 19 October 2008

What's the difference between somatostatin and octreotide?

Somatostatin is a hormone found naturally in the body - it is produced by the brain and parts of the digestive system (the stomach, the pancreas and the intestine). It has a huge range of inhibitory effects.

At the pituitary, it suppresses the release of both thyroid-stimulating hormone and growth hormone. It also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain in other regards. Finally, it has a massive range of inhibitory action in the gastrointestinal tract. For instance, it inhibits the release of insulin, glucagon, gastrin and cholecystokinin, to name just a few things!

Octreotide, on the other hand, is a synthetic analogue of somatostatin. It has been used to treat acromegaly (i.e. the clinical syndrome of excess growth hormone production) as well as in carcinoid syndrome and oesophageal varices. It's not exactly the same thing as somatostatin (it has a greater blocking effect on insulin, glucagon and growth hormone than its natural counterpart), but it is closely related.

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