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March 9, 1984

Brain Peptides as Intercellular Messengers: Implications for Medicine

Author Affiliations

From the Peptide Biology Laboratory, The Salk Institute, La Jolla, Calif.

JAMA. 1984;251(10):1310-1315. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340340050027

THE FOLLOWING discussion examines the unique features of peptides as intercellular messengers. An intercellular messenger is defined as a substance released from one cell that is capable of modifying the functional activity of another neighboring or distant cell.1 The roles that particular brain peptides may play in regulating anterior pituitary and autonomic nervous system functions, and the potential impact of peptide biology on the future practice of medicine will also be considered.

Peptides are now recognized to be a class of intercellular messengers widely distributed throughout the nervous system, gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and pancreas of both vertebrate and invertebrate animals.1 During the last 20 years, the number of peptides identified within the brain and gut of animals has increased enormously (Table 1). The discovery of these peptides in animals has resulted from improved methods of biologic assay and the development of techniques for the isolation, purification, and microsequencing

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