Peptide neuroregulators: The opioid system as a model
Nerve Tissue Proteins
Nervous System Physiological Phenomena
Aaron Lerner's work provides a stunning set of examples of substances that help to transmit information in the brain and body. His characterization of alpha-MSH and melatonin and his sparking of interest in the further discovery of previously unknown substances have been of inestimable value for the field of neurobiology. Efforts such as those that Lerner undertook so successfully in the field of investigative dermatology now constitute a major research thrust in the field of behavioral neurochemistry and are directly related to advances in psychiatry and neurology. This review considers aspects of research on the neuropeptides, with particular attention to the endogenous opioid (morphine-like) peptides that are active on neural tissue. Neuropeptide research can be categorized broadly as efforts to discover and characterize new families and classes of active agents, investigations of their genetic and molecular processing, and studies of their relationships to behavior in animals and human beings. This review selectively considers some key research questions and strategies that arise from such research.