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Neuropeptides: Biology and Regulation

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  1. Introduction
    1. Definition of a neuropeptide
    2. The known behavioral effects of neuropeptides
    3. The differences between neuropeptides and the classic monoamine and amino acid neurotransmitters
  2. Distribution
    1. Location of neuropeptides
    2. Neuropeptides: Colocalized in neurons
    3. The two main methods for mapping peptides
  3. Biosynthesis
    1. The neurotensin-neuromedin N gene
    2. The role of 5' regulatory sequences on peptide genes
  4. Peptide processing
  5. Conclusion
  6. References

The past several decades have witnessed a veritable explosion of knowledge about the central nervous system (CNS), and in no area has this been as impressive as in peptide neurobiology. Numerous peptide neurotransmitter candidates have been identified and characterized, their CNS distributions mapped, and their genes cloned. The tenet ?one neuron-one transmitter? erroneously attributed to Dale has been convincingly refuted with numerous demonstrations of neurons containing multiple peptides or combinations of peptide and nonpeptide neurotransmitters. Additionally, since the early 1980s there has been an embarrassment of riches in the form of knowledge about neurotransmitter receptor diversity, diversity of receptor-effector coupling, and neurotransmitter transporters. These discoveries have not yet been fully integrated into what is known about normal or aberrant CNS function, although dysfunction at virtually any level could conceivably lead to neuropsychiatric deficits.

[...] Attempts to verify peptide turnover may be made if the mRNA concentration, peptide concentration, receptor up- regulation or down-regulation, and degradative activity are known. Although methods to achieve each of these goals are now available, they have not generally been applied in combination to the same tissue sample. Whereas the differences between neuropeptides and the classic monoamine and amino-acid neurotransmitters are often striking, their CNS effects are similar in that they primarily excite or inhibit discrete neurons upon direct application. [...]

[...] In the hypothalamus most of the SRIF-containing neurons that project to the median eminence have been shown to emanate from cell bodies mainly in the rostral periventricular nucleus, with some in the paraventricular nucleus and none in the arcuate nucleus. Thus, the other hypothalamic regions (arcuate, suprachiasmatic, ventromedial) containing SRIF neurons probably do not project to the median eminence and may perform a regulatory or feedback function on neurons containing other hypothalamic releasing factors, such as GRF, CRF, TRH, or their afferents. [...]

[...] as thermoregulation, food and water consumption, sex, sleep, locomotion, memory, learning, responses to stress and pain, and emotion. Those actions have stimulated interest in the contribution of the peptidergic neuronal systems to the symptoms and behaviors exhibited in such major psychiatric illnesses as psychotic disorders, mood disorders, and dementia. In addition to their endocrine and neurotransmitter roles, many peptides and their receptors apparently play active roles in development and often appear transiently in various anatomical regions or in such abundance that a trophic effect is postulated, an effect that does not necessarily persist beyond early development. [...]

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