Pflügers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology

, Volume 470, Issue 1, pp 143–154 | Cite as

Chromogranins: from discovery to current times

  • Karen B. HelleEmail author
  • Marie-Helene Metz-Boutigue
  • Maria Carmela Cerra
  • Tommaso Angelone
Invited Review


The discovery in 1953 of the chromaffin granules as co-storage of catecholamines and ATP was soon followed by identification of a range of uniquely acidic proteins making up the isotonic vesicular storage complex within elements of the diffuse sympathoadrenal system. In the mid-1960s, the enzymatically inactive, major core protein, chromogranin A was shown to be exocytotically discharged from the stimulated adrenal gland in parallel with the co-stored catecholamines and ATP. A prohormone concept was introduced when one of the main storage proteins collectively named granins was identified as the insulin release inhibitory polypeptide pancreastatin. A wide range of granin-derived biologically active peptides have subsequently been identified. Both chromogranin A and chromogranin B give rise to antimicrobial peptides of relevance for combat of pathogens. While two of the chromogranin A-derived peptides, vasostatin-I and pancreastatin, are involved in modulation of calcium and glucose homeostasis, respectively, vasostatin-I and catestatin are important modulators of endothelial permeability, angiogenesis, myocardial contractility, and innate immunity. A physiological role is now evident for the full-length chromogranin A and vasostatin-I as circulating stabilizers of endothelial integrity and in protection against myocardial injury. The high circulating levels of chromogranin A and its fragments in patients suffering from various inflammatory diseases have emerged as challenges for future research and clinical applications.


Chromogranin A Chromogranin B Vasostatin-I Catestatin Physiological roles Inflammatory diseases 



Antimicrobial peptides




Chromogranin A


Chromogranin B
















Vasoconstriction-inhibiting factor


Parathyroid hormone




Minimal inhibitory concentration



The authors are greatly indebted to Dr. Dominique Aunis for his everlasting and strong scientific support in the development of the biological roles of the chromogranin-derived peptides, in vascular integrity, myocardial contractility, and innate immunity.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen B. Helle
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marie-Helene Metz-Boutigue
    • 2
  • Maria Carmela Cerra
    • 3
  • Tommaso Angelone
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiomedicineUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Biomaterials and Tissue EngineeringInstitut National de la Santé et de la Recherche MedicaleStrasbourgFrance
  3. 3.Department of Biology, Ecology and Earth SciencesUniversity of CalabriaArcavata de RendeItaly

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