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Neuropeptide is a kind of special information substance, which refers to the endogenous active substance which exists in nerve tissue and participates in the function of the nervous system. Neuropeptides exist not only in the nervous system but also in various systems of the whole body, playing a variety of roles, such as neurohormones, neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, and cytokines. It plays an important role in regulating various physiological functions at all stages of biological development. In recent years, with the development of molecular biology techniques, the research of neuropeptides is advancing by leaps and bounds.
Mechanism of action
Neuropeptides are related to peptide hormones. In some cases, peripheral hormonal peptides also have the function of neuropeptides. Typically, peptides act on metabolic or G-protein-coupled receptors expressed by selective neuronal populations. In essence, they are specific signals between one group of neurons and another group of neurons. Neurotransmitters generally affect the excitability of other neurons by depolarizing or hyperpolarizing them. Peptides have more different effects, they can affect gene expression, local blood flow, synapse formation, and glial cell morphology. Peptides often have lasting effects, some of which have a significant effect on behavior.
Neuropeptide is characterized by low content, high activity, extensive and complex function, and regulating a variety of physiological functions in vivo, such as pain, sleep, emotion, learning and memory and even the differentiation and development of the nervous system itself. Peptide signals play a different role in information processing than traditional neurotransmitters, and many seem to be particularly related to specific behavior. For example, oxytocin and vasopressin have significant and specific effects on social behavior, including maternal behavior and pairing binding.
1. Stoop, R. (2019). Neuropeptide signalling in the central nucleus of the amygdala. Cell and tissue research, 375(1), 93-101.
2. Xu, Y. L., Reinscheid, R. K., Huitron-Resendiz, S., Clark, S. D., Wang, Z., Lin, S. H., ... & de Lecea, L. (2004). Neuropeptide S: a neuropeptide promoting arousal and anxiolytic-like effects. Neuron, 43(4), 487-497.