Neurological research involving peptides Neurological research involving peptides

Peptide studies relating to the brain and CNS have increased throughout the last decade. Thanks to this research, scientists have begun to more heavily involve research peptides in their work, speculating that they may have a subtle and complicated influence on the brain in normal and abnormal states. Even more intriguing is that studies conducted over the last decade have suggested that the primary function of numerous brain peptides was misidentified in original studies on CNS and peptide connections. Scientists have been unsure about the fundamental functions of individual peptides in the brain for a long time. Recently, however, science has advanced to the point where researchers are starting to comprehend more fully the potential functions of peptides in the brain.

Neurotransmitter Peptides

Studies suggest that neurotransmitters, or chemicals involved in relaying information between brain regions, are mostly peptides or peptide derivatives. The building blocks of neuronal communication—peptides and amino acids—are the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. They act as the last link in the chain of chemical messengers that allow a signal to go from neuron to neuron throughout the brain. However, since these molecules are not specialists, altering them is considered to induce a systemic rather than localized influence on brain activity.

Recent studies, particularly in animals, have uncovered other peptides with specialized potential in the brain besides the aforementioned generic neurotransmitters. This study provides scientists with new ground in research areas dedicated to sleep, memory, and emotion by rewriting the knowledge of how the brain functions.

Peptides and the Brain

As research into peptides and matured, certain synthetically developed peptides were initially named for their speculated function, but have been found later to not always do justice to the primary or ancillary functions that these molecules may play in the brain and spinal cord since their titles reflect their initial planned purpose. The VIP (vasoactive intestinal polypeptide) illustrates the concept well. The initial isolation of VIP was in the gut, and it was suggested to enhance blood flow to the digestive tract by decreasing smooth muscle contractions. However, with time and further investigation, VIP has been hypothesized to serve a far wider variety of purposes. Research suggests that VIP may function in the brain’s pituitary gland to control the release of prolactin and growth hormone. Therefore, the word vasoactive intestinal polypeptide might be deceiving when discussing the central nervous system.

DSIP Peptide

Rabbits were used to discover the short, all-natural peptide known as DSIP. Studies suggest that when the brain is exposed to DSIP, it may induce slow-wave sleep. Scientists speculate that this may not be the sole purpose of DSIP, nor even the primary purpose. Subsequent studies have purported that this peptide may be essential for development, stress responses, pain perception, and wound healing by regulating the endocrine system during sleep.

The potential impact of DSIP on pain perception and mood has been studied extensively. It is hypothesized that DSIP may indirectly affect central opioid receptors. Thus, DSIP has been speculated to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms of research models exhibiting addictive behavior. Investigations imply that pain management options may be developed if DSIP is well understood.

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Epithalon Peptide

A natural peptide obtained from the pineal gland of cows served as the inspiration for the creation of the synthetic peptide known as Epithalon. Findings purport that it may have widespread impacts because it may act as a gene regulator. Epithalon has been designated as a potential “anti-aging” peptide due to studies in rats suggesting a 27% increase in lifespan due to sustained hormone production from Epithalon exposure as compared to controls.

Data suggests that Epithalon may influence the activity of the pineal gland, the retina, and brain neurons in the central nervous system. Epithalon has been speculated to hasten the differentiation of neurons and boost rates of neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons). This data suggests that Epithalon is a nootropic peptide that may prove viable within the contest of  cognitive function research, including learning speed, memory preservation, and protection against neuronal death due to age-related physiological decline.

Synthetic Analogues of Ghrelin

The intestines secrete the peptide hormone ghrelin, which has been hypothesized to affect the brain substantially. Ghrelin, sometimes known as the hunger hormone, may increase pituitary growth hormone secretion while stimulating food consumption. In mice, Ghrelin’s central nervous system’s potential impact has been linked to crucial functions, including learning, memory, circadian rhythms, reward behavior, and taste perception. Research suggests that some or all of these features may be shared by ghrelin analogs such as Ipamorelin, GHRP-2, and GHRP-6.

Research suggests that Ghrelin’s primary role may be to promote appetite and, by extension, growth hormone production. Findings imply that Ghrelin may have a role in promoting a normative energy balance that supports the development of lean muscle. Recent animal studies suggest that Ghrelin may function in the brain to regulate the links between eating for pleasure and eating to relieve stress.

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[i] W. Larbig, W. D. Gerber, M. Kluck, and G. A. Schoenenberger, “Therapeutic effects of delta-sleep-inducing peptide (DSIP) in patients with chronic, pronounced pain episodes. A clinical pilot study,” Eur. Neurol., vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 372–385, 1984, doi: 10.1159/000115716.

[ii] A. Nakamura, M. Nakashima, T. Sugao, H. Kanemoto, Y. Fukumura, and H. Shiomi, “Potent antinociceptive effect of centrally administered delta-sleep-inducing peptide (DSIP),” Eur. J. Pharmacol., vol. 155, no. 3, pp. 247–253, Oct. 1988, doi: 10.1016/0014-2999(88)90510-9.

[iii] V. N. Anisimov, S. V. Mylnikov, and V. K. Khavinson, “Pineal peptide preparation epithalamin increases the lifespan of fruit flies, mice and rats,” Mech. Ageing Dev., vol. 103, no. 2, pp. 123–132, Jun. 1998, doi: 10.1016/S0047-6374(98)00034-7.

[iv] V. Khavinson et al., “AEDG Peptide (Epitalon) Stimulates Gene Expression and Protein Synthesis during Neurogenesis: Possible Epigenetic Mechanism,” Mol. Basel Switz., vol. 25, no. 3, p. E609, Jan. 2020, doi: 10.3390/molecules25030609.

[v] M. Perelló and J. M. Zigman, “The Role of Ghrelin in Reward-Based Eating,” Biol. Psychiatry, vol. 72, no. 5, Art. no. 5, Sep. 2012, doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.02.016.

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