Selective, nonpeptide antagonists for tachykinin receptors first became available ten years ago. Of the three known tachykinin receptors, drug development has focused most intensively on the substance P-preferring receptor, neurokinin1 (NK1). Although originally studied as potential analgesic compounds, recent evidence suggests that NK1 receptor antagonists may possess antidepressant and anxiolytic properties. If confirmed by further controlled clinical studies, this will represent a mechanism of action distinct from all existing antidepressant agents. As reviewed in this chapter, the existing preclinical and clinical literature is suggestive of, but not conclusive, concerning a role of substance P and NK1 receptors in the pathophysiology of depression and/or anxiety disorders. The ongoing clinical trials with NK1 receptor antagonists have served as an impetus for much needed, basic research in this field.
- Substance P
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