Corticotropin-releasing factor receptor-1: A therapeutic target for cardiac autonomic disturbances

Susan K. Wood, James H. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), a neuropeptide involved in triggering a myriad of responses to fear and stress, is favourably positioned in the CNS to modulate the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the cardiac autonomic nervous system. In vivo studies suggest that central CRF inhibits vagal output and stimulates sympathetic activity. Therefore, CRF may function to inhibit exaggerated vagal activation that results in severe bradycardia or even vasovagal syncope. On the other hand, CRF receptor-1 (CRF1) antagonists increase cardiac vagal and decrease sympathetic activity, thereby also implicating CRF, as a therapeutic target for autonomic disturbances resulting in elevated sympathetic activity, such as hypertension and coronary heart disease. The central distribution of CRF1 and the cardiovascular effects of CRF, agonists and antagonists, suggest it mediates CRF-induced autonomic changes. However, there is insufficient information regarding the autonomic effects of CRF2-selective compounds to rule out CRF2 contribution. This review provides an update on the autonomic effects of CRF and the neuronal projections thought to mediate these cardiovascular responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1401-1413
Number of pages13
JournalExpert opinion on therapeutic targets
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiac vagal activity
  • Corticotropin-releasing factor
  • Heart rate variability
  • Sympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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