Neuropeptide FF, a mammalian neuropeptide with multiple functions

Prog Neurobiol. Mar-Apr 1996;48(4-5):461-87. doi: 10.1016/0301-0082(96)00001-9.


Neuropeptide FF (NPFF) and neuropeptide AF (NPAF) are two mammalian amidated neuropeptides which are highly concentrated in the posterior pituitary, spinal cord, hypothalamus and medulla. One precursor protein has been identified in mouse, rat, bovine and human brain. The precursor contains a single copy of both peptides, followed by a glycine residues necessary for amidation and flanked by basic residues necessary for processing by enzymes. In the brain, NPFF-like immunoreactive neurons are found in the hypothalamus and medulla. These systems may be associated with observed effects of NPFF on memory and autonomic regulation, respectively. A hypothalamo-pituitary pathway may be involved in neuroendocrine regulation. This is supported by lack of NPFF in the pituitary gland of vasopressin-deficient Brattleboro rats. It is also possible that NPFF acts as a hormone, as it has been detected in human plasma. The spinal cord contains an intrinsic NPFF-ir neuron system, with cell bodies in the dorsal horn and around the central canal. Nerve terminals are highly concentrated in the superficial laminae of the dorsal horn, where NPFF-immunoreactivity can be released by, e.g., potassium and substance P. One specific high-affinity binding site, distinct from binding sites for other peptides, has been characterized in the rat and human brain and spinal cord. The NPFF receptor appears to be coupled to a G-protein, but details of the second messenger systems have not been clarified yet. Intracerebroventricular injection of NPFF induces a vigorous abstinence syndrome in morphine-tolerant rats. Although clear antiopioid-like effects of NPFF on pain have been observed, some studies have also demonstrated long-lasting analgesic effects. These findings and the observed increase in NPFF-immunoreactivity in the cerebrospinal fluid during development of opiate tolerance render NPFF an interesting and challenging target of investigation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Central Nervous System / anatomy & histology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Neuropeptides / physiology*
  • Oligopeptides / metabolism
  • Oligopeptides / physiology*
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide / metabolism


  • Neuropeptides
  • Oligopeptides
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide
  • neuropeptide FF receptor
  • phenylalanyl-leucyl-phenylalanyl-glutaminyl-prolyl-glutaminyl-arginyl-phenylalaninamide