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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2012, Article ID 873723, 6 pages
Review Article

Regulation and Roles of Urocortins in the Vascular System

Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Hirosaki University Graduate School of Medicine, 5 Zaifu-cho, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8562, Japan

Received 8 February 2012; Revised 6 March 2012; Accepted 6 March 2012

Academic Editor: Keiichi Ikeda

Copyright © 2012 Kazunori Kageyama et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Urocortins (Ucns) are members of the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) family of peptides. Ucns would have potent effects on the cardiovascular system via the CRF receptor type 2 (CRF2 receptor). Regulation and roles of each Ucn have been determined in the vascular system. Ucns have more potent vasodilatory effects than CRF. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) express Ucns1-3 mRNAs, and the receptor, receptor mRNA. Ucns1-3 mRNA levels are differentially regulated in HUVECs. Differential regulation of Ucns may suggest differential roles of those in HUVECs. Ucn1 and Ucn2 have strong effects on interleukin (IL)-6 gene expression and secretion in rat aortic smooth muscle A7r5 cells. The increase that we observed in IL-6 levels following Ucn treatment of A7r5 cells suggests that smooth muscle cells may be a source of IL-6 secretion under physiological stress conditions. Ucns are important and unique modulators of vascular smooth muscle cells and act directly or indirectly as autocrine and paracrine factors in the vascular system.