Neurotrophic Peptides: Their Role and Influence on Brain Health

Neurotrophic peptides, also known as neuropeptides or neurotrophins, are involved in many physiological processes including metabolism, development and reproduction. In this article, we will explore their influence on brain health and the potential of neurotrophic peptides for therapeutic applications in neurodegenerative diseases.
Frederika Malichová

Frederika Malichová

Neuroscientist at the University Of Cambridge.

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What Are Neurotrophic Peptides?

Neurotrophic peptides, or neuropeptides, are a subclass of peptides expressed in the nervous tissue. They work as neurotransmitters or hormones to influence a wide range of physiological conditions and behaviours [1, 2]. In particular, they are involved in processes including metabolism, regeneration and also development [3].

Neuropeptides are produced from a larger neuropeptide precursor (NPP) [3, 4].

Neurotrophic peptides have been reported to have neurotrophic and neuroprotective properties. They contribute to the acceleration of nerve repair after injury and also help to improve both sensory and motor function [5]. In addition, they have been associated with other physiological activities for instance myotropic activities, pheromonotropic activities, etc [6].

From the perspective of neurodegenerative diseases, neuropeptides show to be promising in therapeutic agents. Their neuroprotective function protects cells from toxicity. They mimic the neurotrophic action of nerve growth factor, which may restore axonal connectivity in neurodegenerative processes [7].

In addition, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) also shows to have neuroprotective effects [7, 8]. BDNF is the most abundant neurotrophin in the mammalian brain. It is involved in synaptic plasticity and low levels of BDNF are implicated in the pathophysiology of neurological diseases (including Alzheimer’s disease). Contrary, a healthy lifestyle, exercise and dietary modifications can up-regulate the levels of BDNF [9].

Another example of neuropeptide in the brain is neuropeptide Y (NPY). NPY is a small peptide widely distributed throughout the brain and it also shows neuroprotective functions. NPY also restores or sometimes even increases neurotrophin protein and mRNA in neuroblastoma cells [10].

People Also Ask

Neuropeptide Y (NPY) has been shown to protect brain cells through various mechanisms. It inhibits excessive glutamate release, reducing circuitry hyperexcitability and protecting neurons from excitotoxic cell death [1]. NPY also promotes neuronal differentiation and acts as a neuroprotective agent against β-amyloid neurotoxicity [2]. Additionally, NPY attenuates pro-apoptotic pathways and ER stress, and exhibits anti-inflammatory properties [3]. It may also modulate neurogenesis and neurotrophin levels, providing neuroprotection [4]. Overall, NPY plays a crucial role in maintaining brain cell health and protecting against neurodegenerative diseases [5].

Yes, NPY can increase neurotrophin levels in neuroblastoma cells. A study by Croce et al. (2011) demonstrated that preincubation with NPY increased the survival of neuroblastoma cells and restored or even increased the levels of nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in these cells. This suggests that NPY can act as a neuroprotective agent and modulate neurotrophin expression in neuroblastoma cells.

Are neurotrophic peptides beneficial for my brain?

Neuropeptides also have protective effects against neurotoxicity. It has been shown that an injury-derived neurotrophic peptide protects hippocampal neurons from glutamate-induced neurotoxicity [10].

Although the neurotrophic peptides do show promises in animal models, their application in human disease treatment still needs to be researched.

How can neurotrophic peptides influence my brain health?

Neuropeptides can influence your brain health. They are essential for the health and well-being of the nervous system, mediating higher-order activities like learning, memory and behaviour [11].

Neurotrophins are also involved in the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Huntingto’s disease but also in mental health conditions like depression [12].

These peptides can be delivered to brain using nanotechnology, offering protection against degradation, enhanced permeability of barrier membranes and intrinsic therapeutic properties of the nanoparticles [13]. However such needs to be explored more so the approach can be implemented into clinical applications [13].

In conclusion, neurotrophic peptides can significantly influence brain health by promoting neuron survival, enhancing learning and memory, and potentially offering therapeutic benefits for neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders.

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Frederika Malichová

Frederika Malichová

Frederika is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Cambridge, where she investigates new biomarkers for Frontotemporal Dementia and other tauopathies. Her research has been published at prestigious conferences such as the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2023. She obtained her BSc in Biomedical Sciences from UCL, where she worked closely with the UK Dementia Research Institute.