Somatostatin: characteristics and effects of this hormone

In the human body we can find a large number and a wide variety of structures and organs that have different properties and functions. The main system in charge is the nervous system, but it should also be noted the important role of the endocrine system.

In this sense, a large part of the function of our body depends on certain hormones that modify or regulate the functioning of the organs, glands and tissues that are part of them. I one of them is somatostatin, Which we will talk about throughout this article.

    Somatostatin: what is it?

    Somatostatin is one of the different hormones that our body naturally secretes, which, like other hormones, acts as a messenger that generates some kind of alteration in the functioning or structure of other bodily systems.

    It is a protein-like substance that can be synthesized in two different forms, one of the twenty amino acids (with more presence in the digestive tract) and another (the most common in the nervous system and the pancreas, and the best known) formed for a total of fourteen amino acids, and which has an effect on different bodily systems such as the nervous, endocrine, even digestive or excretory system. It also acts as a neurotransmitter.

    Somatostatin is a fundamentally inhibitory hormone and its synthesis takes place in the pancreas. It is produced mainly on the islets of Langerhans like insulin and glucagon, especially by the delta cells of these structures. However, we can also find other areas which synthesize and use it, in particular the hypothalamus and other brain nuclei or the walls of the gastrointestinal tract.

      Main functions of this hormone

      Somatostatin is a hormone that is found in most of our body systems and has different effects on it. As we saw above, plays a predominantly inhibitory role in most target organs.

      One of the functions or properties for which it is best known is for its inhibitory role of growth hormone, which allows it to slow down sharply in adulthood and contribute to the regenerative capacity of our body by ‘ “ reducing energy expenditure devoted to growth ”. It does this by acting on the pituitary gland to reduce the production of growth hormone or somatotropin. In fact, it is this function that has earned it the name of somatotropin-releasing inhibitor hormone.

      It also affects the release of other hormones, such as corticotropin, which enables the production of steroids by our adrenal glands. as well affects and inhibits the functioning and synthesis of thyroid hormones, Suppression of its releasing factor in the pituitary gland. In addition, at the pancreatic level, somatostatin inhibits the release of insulin and glucagon, which helps control the release of these hormones and can lead to an increase in blood sugar.

      In the digestive tract, it inhibits and reduces intestinal motility and enzyme secretion, in addition to the absorption of glucose and other nutrients. It also has an effect on the excretory system, reducing urination. Another of its effects is to reduce blood flow at the splenic or visceral level, as well as salivation or the intestinal mucosa.

      It also has an effect on the immune system, As well as in the cardiovascular. In the nervous system, it inhibits the functioning of part of the central system, as well as the autonomic system (in fact, it reduces and hinders movement, having an effect on the extrapyramidal system). It also inhibits the release of monoamines such as norepinephrine and dopamine.

      Pharmacological use: clinical utility

      Somatostatin is, as we said, a hormone present in our body, which mainly comes from the pancreas. However, some people may have some kind of deficit in their synthesis or find themselves in a medical situation which may benefit from their external administration. And it is also because of its effects on the body that somatostatin was synthesized in the laboratory in order to cope with various conditions.

      Synthetic somatostatin used as medicine is analogous and has the same chemical composition as that produced by our body, and is applicable by blood infusion, by infusion. It usually comes in the form of lyophilized powder vials and vials that contain a solvent (usually sodium chloride) that allows it to dissolve. The dose in question will depend on various factors such as age or the presence of pathologies.

      The use of this hormone is indicated for the treatment of internal bleeding, Especially with regard to lesions or ruptures of varicose veins and fistulas in areas such as the esophagus or pancreas, or in the digestive tract.

      The reason is that, as we mentioned earlier, somatostatin not only inhibits hormones, but also decreases secretions from digestive organs, intestinal motility and blood flow to viscera. However, its use is only to complement other treatments, requiring other types of interventions to achieve clinical improvement.

      Furthermore, is the treatment of choice for acromegaly or gigantism due to its inhibition of growth hormone and pituitary activity. Another clinical application of this hormone occurs in pancreatic or gastric tumors, although in this case it acts more as a marker and as a vehicle for radioactive molecules capable of fighting neoplasia, as well as in part of the pituitary gland. .be an inhibitor of its activity.

      Risks and side effects of its medical use

      Somatostatin is a very useful hormone both naturally and in its clinical application. However, in the second case, we can see that its use as a medicine carries some risks. Sometimes it is contraindicated or it is necessary to use lower doses than usual.

      Among the possible side effects, it is relatively common onset of high blood sugar, dizziness and suffocation, abdominal pain and nausea. Episodes of diarrhea, hypoglycemia, bradycardia, as well as hiccups and hypertension may also occur. Finally, there is the risk of arrhythmias, blockages and heart problems.

      as well decreases the flow of urine and sodium in the blood, as well as glomerular filtration, Which can be negative in people with severe kidney problems. Particular attention should be paid to the presence of heart problems in the early stages of treatment, even when monitoring vital signs.

      For populations who should not take this drug, somatostatin is contraindicated in pregnant women or during childbirth or breastfeeding (Which should be discontinued if treatment with this medicine is essential) as it affects the growth hormone and this can cause damage to the fetus or baby. Its use in children or adolescents is also not recommended.

      It should also not be mixed with other medicines unless your doctor tells you to, especially in the case of anti-anxiety drugs (how strong). Obviously, people who are allergic to somatostatin or any component of its preparation should also not take this medicine.

      People with severe kidney diseaseAlthough they can be treated with this medicine, they should be given in lower doses. Because it blocks the release of insulin and glucagon and the risk of hyperglycemia, its pharmacological use should be particularly controlled in people with diabetes, especially if they are insulin-dependent or type 1 (from insulin may be needed).

      bibliographical references

      • Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products. (2011). Flyer: Information for the user. Somatostatin eumedica 250mcg. 1 lyophilized road powder + 1 vial of 1 ml of solvent. Drug Information Center.
      • Kandel, ER; Schwartz, JH and Jessell, TM (2001). Principles of neuroscience. Fourth edition. McGraw-Hill Inter-American. Madrid.
      • Ortega, E., Mestrón, A. and Webb, SM (2000). Utility of somatostatin analogues in gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and non-GH-producing pituitary tumors. Endorinology and Nutrition, 48 (5): 140-148.

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