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Gastrointestinal neuropeptides

Although modern endocrinology began with the discovery that a substance, secretin, secreted into the blood from the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract stimulates the secretion of pancreatic juices, little attention was subsequently paid to gastrointestinal hormones. When investigators began to examine the distribution of neuropeptides within the body, however, there emerged a bewildering variety of these hormones, not only within the brain but also in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and in other organs. The list includes glucagon, the enkephalins, secretin, cholecystokinin, gastrin, calcitonin, angiotensin, substance P, pancreatic polypeptide, neuropeptide Y (a human variant of a peptide called bombesin), delta-sleep-inducing peptide, and vasoactive intestinal peptide. The actions and interactions of these hormones both in the intestinal tract and in the brain are complex and are the subject of continuing investigations. Briefly, these peptides play important roles in the transmission and inhibition of pain stimuli, in eating and drinking behaviour, in memory and learning, in the regulation of body temperature, in the induction of sleep, and in sexual behaviour.
 
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