Peptides and the blood-brain barrier

Peptides. 2015 Oct;72:16-9. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2015.03.010. Epub 2015 Mar 21.


The demonstration that peptides and regulatory proteins can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is one of the major contributions of Dr. Abba J. Kastin. He was the first to propose that peptides could cross the BBB, the first to show that an endogenous peptide did so, and the first to describe a saturable transport system at the BBB for peptides. His work shows that in crossing the BBB, peptides and regulatory proteins act as informational molecules, informing the brain of peripheral events. Brain-to-blood passage helps to control levels of peptides with the brain and can deliver information in the brain-to-blood direction. He showed that the transporters for peptides and proteins are not static, but respond to developmental and physiological changes and are affected by disease states. As such, the BBB is adaptive to the needs of the CNS, but when that adaption goes awry, the BBB can be a cause of disease. The mechanisms by which peptides and proteins cross the BBB offer opportunities for drug delivery of these substances or their analogs to the brain in the treatment of diseases of the central nervous system.

Keywords: AJ Kastin; Blood–brain barrier; Cytokines; Delta sleep-inducing peptide; Peptides; Regulatory proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Peptides / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport / physiology


  • Peptides