Neuropeptide-processing enzymes: applications for drug discovery

AAPS J. 2005 Oct 5;7(2):E449-55. doi: 10.1208/aapsj070244.


Neuropeptides serve many important roles in communication between cells and are an attractive target for drug discovery. Neuropeptides are produced from precursor proteins by selective cleavages at specific sites, and are then broken down by further cleavages. In general, the biosynthetic cleavages occur within the cell and the degradative cleavages occur postsecretion, although there are exceptions where intracellular processing leads to inactivation, or extracellular processing leads to activation of a particular neuropeptide. A relatively small number of peptidases are responsible for processing the majority of neuropeptides, both inside and outside of the cell. Thus, inhibition of any one enzyme will lead to a broad effect on several different neuropeptides and this makes it unlikely that such inhibitors would be useful therapeutics. However, studies with mutant animals that lack functional peptide-processing enzymes have facilitated the discovery of novel neuropeptides, many of which may be appropriate targets for therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism*
  • Peptide Hydrolases / analysis
  • Peptide Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical / methods*
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical / trends


  • Neuropeptides
  • Peptide Hydrolases