Purpose of review
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) receptors are not only detected in the central nervous system but also in tissues such as ovary, endometrium, breast, gastrointestinal system, placenta and malignant tumors of ovary and breast. The direct role of GnRH-antagonists in ovarian function, implantation, cancer pathogenesis and treatment is under extensive investigation. This study reviews the biochemistry and molecular and cellular biology of GnRH-antagonists as well as GnRH types and their receptors.
The best clinical evidence with GnRH-antagonists has accumulated in controlled ovarian hyperstimulation protocols for prevention of premature luteinizing hormone surge (cetrorelix, ganirelix) and in the treatment of advanced-stage prostate cancer (abarelix and degarelix). GnRH–GnRH receptor pathways may have a role in the embryo implantation. The controversy still exists whether GnRH antagonist protocols result in slightly decreased clinical pregnancy rates compared with the GnRH agonist protocols. GnRH-antagonists could be used in the near future to treat some cancer types that express GnRH receptors.
GnRH-antagonists have various clinical applications in gynecology, reproductive medicine, urology and oncology. The emergence of well tolerated, orally active GnRH-antagonists may provide an alternative to long-term injections and is likely to have a major impact on the utility of GnRH analogues in the treatment of human diseases.