Peptide Humors

  • Bernard T. Donovan


The peptides, or rather the peptides produced by the brain, provide a splendid example of the way in which research aimed at the resolution of one scientific problem sometimes uncovers seemingly unrelated information of immense general benefit. In this case, very soon after the chemicals controlling the output of hormones from the pituitary gland, the releasing factors, were identified, study of their occurrence in the brain revealed that they could be found far away from the hypothalamus, and thus might have some other function. These observations were the first of many pointing to the conclusion that peptides like the thyrotrophin releasing factor, the first such compound studied in any detail, might well act as neurotransmitters. The importance of the idea that peptides of this nature might be involved in communication between nerve cells cannot be underestimated, for we now know that peptides can cause drinking, induce feelings of satiety, euphoria, and anxiety, and affect learning and memory, as well as possibly influencing sexual function. Accordingly, they deserve a chapter to themselves although some of the activities of vasopressin, oxytocin and ACTH have been encountered earlier and will recur subsequently.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Further Reading

  1. Bloom, F.E. (1984). The functional significance of neurotransmitter diversity. American Journal of Physiology, 246, C184–94.Google Scholar
  2. Bradford, H.F. (1986). Chemical Neurobiology. New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  3. Cooper, J.R., Bloom, F.E. and Roth, R.H. (1986). The Biochemical Basis of Neuropharmacology. 5th edn. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Panksepp, J. (1986). The neurochemistry of behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 37, 77–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Snyder, S.H. (1984). Drug and neurotransmitter receptors in the brain. Science, 224, 22–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar


  1. Akil, H., Watson, S.J., Young, E., Lewis, M.E., Khachaturian, H. and Walker, J.M. (1984). Endogenous opioids: biology and function. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 7, 223–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Axel, R. (1985). Neuropeptide genes mediating complex behavior in Aplysia. Harvey Lectures, 79, 1–30.Google Scholar
  3. Baile, C.A., McLaughlin, C.L. and Della-Ferra, M.A. (1986). Role of cholecystokinin and opioid peptides in control of food intake. Physiological Reviews, 66, 172–234.Google Scholar
  4. Beal, M.F., Uhl, G., Mazurek, M.F., Kowall, N. and Martin, J.B. (1986). Somatostatin: alterations in the central nervous system in neurological diseases. Research Publications, Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease, 64, 215–57.Google Scholar
  5. Berger, P.A., Watson, S.J., Akil, H. and Barchas, J.D. (1986). Investigating opioid peptides in schizophrenia and depression. Research Publications, Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease, 64, 309–33.Google Scholar
  6. Blalock, J.E. and Smith, E.M. (1985). A complete regulatory loop between the immune and neuroendocrine systems. Federation Proceedings, 44, 108–11.Google Scholar
  7. Bretscher, M.S. (1985). The molecules of the cell membrane. Scientific American, October, 86–90.Google Scholar
  8. Brooks, C. McC. and Levey, H.A. (1959). Humorally-transported integrators of body function and the development of endocrinology. In: The Historical Development of Physiological Thought. Ed. C. McC. Brooks and P.F. Cranefield, pp. 183–238. New York: Hafner.Google Scholar
  9. Casper, R.F. and Yen, S.S.C. (1985). Neuroendocrinology of menopausal flushes: an hypothesis of flush mechanism. Clinical Endocrinology, 22, 293–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Devor, M. (1984). Pain and ‘state’-induced analgesia: an introduction. In: Stressinduced Analgesia. Ed. M.D. Tricklebank and G. Curzon, pp. 1–18. Chichester: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  11. Ghodse, A.H. (1983). Drug dependence and intoxication. In: Mental Disorders and Somatic Illness. Ed. M.H. Lader, pp. 212–41. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Gray, T.S. and Morley, J.E. (1986). Neuropeptide Y: Anatomical distribution and possible function in mammalian nervous system. Life Sciences, 38, 389–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Grevert, P., Albert, L.H. and Goldstein, A. (1983). Partial antagonism of placebo analgesia by naloxone. Pain, 16, 129–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Guillemin, R., Brazeau, P., Böhlen, P., Esch, F., Ling, N., Wehrenberg, W.B., Bloch, B., Mougin, C., Zeytin, F. and Baird, A. (1984). Somatocrinin, the growth hormone releasing factor. Recent Progress in Hormone Research, 40, 233–86.Google Scholar
  15. Hendry, S.H.C., Jones, E.G., DeFilipe, J., Schmechel, D., Brandon, C. and Emson, P.C. (1984). Neuropeptide-containing neurons of the cerebral cortex are also GABAergic. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 81, 6526–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jackson, I.M.D. (1982). Thyrotropin-releasing hormone. New England Journal of Medicine, 306, 145–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jones, E.G. (1986). Neurotransmitters in the cerebral cortex. Journal of Neurosurgery, 65, 135–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Joseph, S.A., Pilcher, W.H. and Knigge, K.M. (1985). Anatomy of the corticotropin-releasing factor and opiomelanocortin systems of the brain. Federation Proceedings, 44, 100–7.Google Scholar
  19. Krieger, D.T. (1986). An overview of neuropeptides. Research Publications, Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease, 64, 1–32.Google Scholar
  20. Lewis, M.E., Khachaturian, H., Schäfer, M.K.-H. and Watson, S.J. (1986). Anatomical approaches to the study of neuropeptides and related mRNA in the central nervous system. Research Publications, Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease, 64, 79–109.Google Scholar
  21. O’Dorisio, M.S., Wood, C.L. and O’Dorisio, T.M. (1985). Vasoactive intestinal peptide and neuromodulation of the immune response. Journal of Immunology, 135, 792s–6s.Google Scholar
  22. Pert, C.B., Ruff, M.R., Weber, R.J. and Herkenham, M. (1985). Neuropeptides and their receptors: a psychosomatic network. Journal of Immunology, 135, 820s– 6s.Google Scholar
  23. Rossier, J. (1986). GRF update: is this the last hypothalamic hypophysiotropic factor? Trends in Neurosciences, 9, 95–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Roth, J., Le Roith, D., Shiloach, J. and Rubinovitz, C. (1983). Intercellular communication: an attempt at a unifying hypothesis. Clinical Research, 31, 354–63.Google Scholar
  25. Rubinow, D.R. (1986). Cerebrospinal fluid somatostatin and psychiatric illness. Biological Psychiatry, 21, 341–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Singh, A. (1984). Tiger! Tiger!. London: Cape.Google Scholar
  27. Snyder, S.H. (1984). Drug and neurotransmitter receptors in the brain. Science, 224, 22–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Snyder, S.H. (1986). Neuronal receptors. Annual Review of Physiology, 48, 461–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Spindel, E. (1986). Mammalian bombesin-like peptides. Trends in the Neurosciences, 9, 130–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Vanderhaeghen, J.-J. and Crawley, J.N. (1985). Eds. Neuronal Cholecystokinin. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 448.Google Scholar
  31. Wall, P.D. (1984). Introduction. In: Textbook of Pain. Eds. P.D. Wall and R. Melzack, pp. 1–16. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.Google Scholar
  32. Whybran, J. (1985). Enkephalins and endorphins as modifiers of the immune system: present and future. Federation Proceedings, 44, 92–4.Google Scholar
  33. Zis, A.P., Haskett, R.F., Albala, A., Carroll, B.J. and Lohr, N.E. (1985). Opioid regulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function in depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 42, 383–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Bernard T. Donovan 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernard T. Donovan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyInstitute of PsychiatryLondonUK

Personalised recommendations