Highlights From the Society for Gynecologic Investigation 51st Annual Meeting

John F. Randolph, Jr, MD

Disclosures

April 18, 2003

In This Article

Introduction

The Society for Gynecologic Investigation (SGI) annual meeting is a principal venue for basic and clinical investigators in obstetrics and gynecology and other disciplines dealing with women's health and reproductive medicine. It has traditionally been a forum for a large proportion of basic research in human obstetrics and human reproductive biology, and it has become increasingly international. The meeting includes both oral and poster presentations of original research as well as state-of-the-art symposia and keynote addresses by invited distinguished speakers. Much of the work presented is on basic human physiologic mechanisms or models of disease, but well-conducted clinical studies also constitute a major portion of the proceedings. This report briefly highlights some of the most interesting presentations.

The opening lecture was presented by Wylie Vale, Head of the Peptide and Biology Lab at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. Dr. Vale discussed the rapidly expanding work on CRF and the urocortins, a family of brain peptides similar to CRF found in a number of tissues that have a role in stress response, mood, and anxiety. This group of hormones interacts with 2 similar but distinct receptors and is believed to play a major role in the ability to respond to stress and to adapt to stressful situations. Except for CRF, which was identified in 1981, the urocortins have all been discovered in just the past decade. In addition to effects on mood and anxiety, molecules in the urocortin family influence gastrointestinal motility, pancreatic beta-cell function, and cardiac contractility. The discovery of these effects has raised the hope that analogues of these hormones may eventually prove beneficial for mood and anxiety disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, type 1 diabetes, and congestive heart failure. Indeed, a number of CRF-like compounds are being developed by both the pharmaceutical industry and university-based researchers, primarily for psychiatric disorders.

Comment: Not only does the urocortin family of peptides hold the potential for novel and targeted approaches to a number of diseases sharing a similar pathologic mechanism, but the entire field of urocortin research exemplifies the progression of bench-to-bedside investigation from basic neuroendocrine molecular biology to applied therapeutics.

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