Most of the peptides and their receptors listed in Table 4.1, were originally discovered in other parts of the body and only later found to be present in the brain. The opposite is also true. Neuropeptides and neuropeptide receptors, such as the opiates, originally found in the brain have been found widely distributed throughout the body. The discovery that the brain and body utilize a common set of peptides and their receptors has important implications in understanding the relation between emotion and health. Shared peptides and peptide receptors may form a molecular/biochemical framework for a bidirectional communication network between brain and body ( Pert, Ruff, Weber, & Henkenham, 1985).
Peptides synthesized throughout the body and entering the brain through the circumventricular organs, crossing the blood-brain barrier, or being brought in by migrating macrophages can gain access to brain receptors. Thus, informational substances in the extracellular fluid reaching limbic receptors from any part of the brain or body, can potentially modify emotions.
Further, if the neuropeptide receptor rich regions of the brain form nodes in an emotion mediating network of the brain, perhaps the neuropeptide receptor rich regions of the body can also be considered nodes in this communication network ( Hill et al., 1988).
I gratefully acknowledge the excellent technical assistance of Ms. Nicole Jelesoff and Ms. Sabine Jean-Paul. I also thank Mrs. Mary Flanagan Cyr and Ms. Yolanda Edwards for their careful preparation of this manuscript.
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