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A naturally occurring regulatory peptide that carries out numerous functions in the human body, including the inhibition of growth hormone secretion from the anterior pituitary gland. Somatostatin consists of 14 amino acids; two cysteine residues are joined by a disulfide bond so that the peptide forms a ring structure. A larger variant of this peptide, called somatostatin-28, is produced in some cells and has an additional 14 amino acids attached at the amino-terminal end of normal somatostatin (somatostatin-14).
Somatostatin acts primarily as a negative regulator of a variety of different cell types, blocking processes such as cell secretion, cell growth, and smooth muscle contraction. It is secreted from the hypothalamus into the portal circulation and travels to the anterior pituitary gland, where it inhibits the production and release of both growth hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormone. Many tissues other than the hypothalamus contain somatostatin, suggesting that this peptide has numerous roles.
Each of the functions of somatostatin is initiated by the binding of the peptide to one or more of five different cell-surface receptor proteins, thereby activating one or more intracellular G-proteins and initiating biochemical signaling pathways within the cell. See Signal transduction
Analogs of somatostatin have been synthesized that are smaller, more potent, longer-lasting, and more specific in their biological effects than natural somatostatin. Some of these analogs have become useful as drugs. See Endocrine system (vertebrate), Hormone, Neurosecretion, Pituitary gland