Progress in developing cholecystokinin (CCK)/gastrin receptor ligands that have therapeutic potential

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Gastrin and cholecystokinin (CCK) are two of the oldest hormones and within the past 15 years there has been an exponential increase in knowledge of their pharmacology, cell biology, receptors (CCK1R and CCK2R), and roles in physiology and pathological conditions. Despite these advances there is no approved disease indication for CCK receptor antagonists and only a minor use of agonists. In this review, the important factors determining this slow therapeutic development are reviewed. To assess this it is necessary to briefly review what is known about the roles of CCK receptors (CCK1R and CCK2R) in normal human physiology, their role in pathologic conditions, the selectivity of available potent CCKR agonists/antagonists as well as to review their use in human conditions to date and the results. Despite extensive studies in animals and in humans, recent studies suggest that monotherapy with CCK1R agonists will not be effective in obesity, nor CCK2R antagonists in panic disorders or CCK2R antagonists to inhibit growth of pancreatic cancer. Areas that require more study include the use of CCK2R agonists for imaging tumors and radiotherapy, CCK2R antagonists in hypergastrinemic states especially with long-term PPI use and for potentiation of analgesia as well as use of CCK1R antagonists for a number of gastrointestinal disorders [motility disorders (irritable bowel syndrome, dyspepsia, and constipation) and pancreatitis (acute and chronic)].

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