Neuropeptide Modulation of Development and Behavior

Implications for Psychopathology
  • Curt A. Sandman
  • Abba J. Kastin


Peptides are very simple molecules composed of amino acids linked by bonds resulting from the elimination of water between an amino group in one molecule and a carboxyl group in an adjacent molecule. Neuropeptides are peptides that either are found in, or influence, the nervous system. The number of neuropeptides identified changes constantly and currently exceeds 60 (cf. Krieger1 and Miller2). Slight changes in the sequence of amino acids in neuropeptides can profoundly alter their influences on the brain and behavior.3 4 The discovery that neuropeptides were located in the nervous system and participated in the communication among cells initially prompted studies of their modulatory influence on classic neurotransmitters. Because neuropeptides did not satisfy some of the rigid criteria of a neurotransmitter and were frequently co-localized with classic transmitters, it was assumed their primary function was to assist in neural communication. Subsequently, peptides were anointed as a new class of neurotransmitter1 and in an insightful analysis, Hokfelt et al. 5 described critical differences between classic neurotransmission and peptidergic transduction. These investigators noted that, compared with classic transmitters, peptidergic transmission was slow and that peptides were released in very small quantities (three- to sixfold less than classic transmitters). A speculative conclusion from this analysis was that peptides produced long-lasting effects (they need not act fast) that were very potent (very little is needed to initiate and sustain neuronal communication). Currently, neuropeptides are considered both as important modulators of aminergic transmission and as primary transmitters. Thus, the addition of a new class of Figure 1. Schematic representation of peptides derived from POMC. (—) Validated translational products. (---) Possible products. transmitters and their co-localization with classic transmitters encouraged the development of models for complex rather than simple (see, e.g., Dale6) signal transmission.


Obstet Gynecol Amniotic Fluid Fetal Distress Maternal Plasma Opiate Receptor 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Curt A. Sandman
    • 1
    • 2
  • Abba J. Kastin
    • 3
  1. 1.State Developmental Research InstituteCosta MesaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Human BehaviorUniversity of California-Irvine Medical CenterOrangeUSA
  3. 3.Veterans Administration Medical CenterTulane University School of MedicineNew OrleansUSA

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