09 December 2008
Corticotropin-releasing hormone-binding protein (CRFBP) is a 37-kD protein of 322 amino acids, containing one putative N-glycosylation site and 11 cysteines, 10 of which remain in the mature molecule (298 amino acids) and result essential for the action. CRFBP protein gene has been cloned and mapped to the distal region of chromosome 13 and loci5q in the mouse and human genomes. CRFBP is the only example of a neuropeptide-binding protein. It is produced in human and rat brain, and in human liver and placenta. In brain, the central distribution of CRFBP shares some regional overlap with CRF receptor-binding sites. Additionally, in hypothalamic and limbic structures, CRFBP has been identified in association with CRF-expressing cell groups. CRFBP has been also demonstrated in the human placenta and related membranes. Indeed, amniotic epithelium, chorionic cytotrophoblast, and maternal decidua also show intense positive CRFBP mRNA signals. Circulating CRFBP levels in healthy nonpregnant individuals show the same range values as in maternal plasma collected during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy. A rise in CRFBP levels at 30-35 weeks of pregnancy with a dramatic decrease at 38-40 weeks have been shown. At postpartum, CRFBP levels in maternal plasma reach the nonpregnant concentrations. Recombinant and native CRFBP neutralize the ACTH-releasing activity of human CRF in cultured pituitary or placental cells and, additionally, may block the activity of CRF on human pregnant endometrium prostaglandin release and on human myometrium contractility in vitro. These findings suggest that CRFBP may play a role in modulating the functions of CRF in human pregnancy.