Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 375, Issue 1, pp 133–142 | Cite as

Urocortins and their unfolding role in mammalian social behavior

  • Shlomo WagnerEmail author


The corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) system is well known for its major role in coordinating the endocrine, autonomic and behavioral responses to stress. These functions have been shown to be mediated mainly by the binding of the CRF neuropeptide to its specific receptor CRFR1. Yet, the CRF system comprises several more neuropeptides, including the three urocortins, UCN1, UCN2 and UCN3, of which the latter two bind specifically to a distinct receptor—CRFR2. Unlike the brain-wide abundant expression of CRF and CRFR1, the brain expression of the urocortins and CRFR2 is rather restricted and seems to be focused in limbic areas associated with social behavior. Here, we will review accumulating evidence from recent studies that unfold the role of UCN2 and UCN3 in regulating mammalian social behavior, via activation of CRFR2.


Urocortins Social behavior CRF system CRFR2 Medial amygdala 



I wish to thank Dr. Shai Netser for his help.

Funding information

This research was supported by The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP grant RGP0019/2015), the Israel Science Foundation (ISF grant #1361/17) and by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space of Israel (Grant #3-12068).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sagol Department of Neurobiology, the Integrated Brain and Behavior Research Center (IBBR), Faculty of Natural SciencesUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

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