Relaxin family peptides and their receptors

Ross Bathgate, Michelle Louise Halls, Emma Therese van der Westhuizen, Gabrielle Callander, Martina Kocan, Roger James Summers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

339 Citations (Scopus)


There are seven relaxin family peptides that are all structurally related to insulin. Relaxin has many roles in female and male reproduction, as a neuropeptide in the central nervous system, as a vasodilator and cardiac stimulant in the cardiovascular system, and as an antifibrotic agent. Insulin-like peptide-3 (INSL3) has clearly defined specialist roles in male and female reproduction, relaxin-3 is primarily a neuropeptide involved in stress and metabolic control, and INSL5 is widely distributed particularly in the gastrointestinal tract. Although they are structurally related to insulin, the relaxin family peptides produce their physiological effects by activating a group of four G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), relaxin family peptide receptors 1-4 (RXFP1-4). Relaxin and INSL3 are the cognate ligands for RXFP1 and RXFP2, respectively, that are leucine-rich repeat containing GPCRs. RXFP1 activates a wide spectrum of signaling pathways to generate second messengers that include cAMP and nitric oxide, whereas RXFP2 activates a subset of these pathways. Relaxin-3 and INSL5 are the cognate ligands for RXFP3 and RXFP4 that are closely related to small peptide receptors that when activated inhibit cAMP production and activate MAP kinases. Although there are still many unanswered questions regarding the mode of action of relaxin family peptides, it is clear that they have important physiological roles that could be exploited for therapeutic benefit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405 - 480
Number of pages76
JournalPhysiological Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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