Supplement Articles

Overview of Neuropeptides: Awakening the Senses?

Andrew F. Russo PhD

Andrew F. Russo PhD

Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Department of Neurology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, 52242 USA

Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Iowa City, IA, 52246 USA

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First published: 09 May 2017
Citations: 118

Conflict of Interest: None.


Humans have a diverse collection of neuropeptides that can influence a multitude of activities. There are now over 100 known neuropeptides and probably many more yet to be identified from the over 1000 predicted peptides encoded in the genome. While diverse, peptides generally share three common characteristics: (1) post-translational processing and release from vesicles, (2) activation of cell-surface receptors over a relatively large distance, and (3) modulation of target cells that are often in the brain and periphery. Within the brain, neuropeptides can modulate the activity of co-released neurotransmitters to either increase or decrease the strength of synaptic signaling. Within the periphery, neuropeptides can function similar to peptide hormones and modulate nearly all bodily functions. Given the clear involvement of the neuropeptide CGRP in migraine and the emerging evidence for other peptides, it seems likely that neuropeptides may help “awaken” the senses and contribute to the heightened sensory state of migraine.