Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Europhysiology 2018 (London, UK) (2018) Proc Physiol Soc 41, PL003

Keynote Lecture

Diversity of peptide signalling in the brain: of whispered secrets and public announcements

M. Ludwig1

1. Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

The brain uses more than 100 different peptides as chemical signals to communicate information, and these have a role in information processing that is quite unlike that of conventional neurotransmitters. Neuropeptides are released from all parts of a neuron, including the axon, soma and, especially, the dendrites, and so are not restricted spatially by synaptic wiring. The neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin, are released from dendrites in response to diverse physiological stimuli and dendritic release can be regulated independently from axon terminal release. Oxytocin and vasopressin function as autocrine or paracrine signals at their site of origin, but can also act at distant brain targets to evoke long-lasting changes in behaviour. Thus, diffuse spread of neuropeptides in the extracellular fluid following dendritic release, in addition with focal release from axonal terminals, contributes to regionally and temporally varying combinations of actions providing a large diversity in interneuronal signalling.

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