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Sniffing neuropeptides: a transnasal approach to the human brain


Neuropeptides act as neuronal messengers in the brain, influencing many neurobehavioral functions1. Their experimental and therapeutic use in humans has been hampered because, when administered systemically, these compounds do not readily pass the blood–brain barrier, and they evoke potent hormone-like side effects when circulating in the blood2,3. We administered three peptides, melanocortin(4–10) (MSH/ACTH(4–10)), vasopressin and insulin, intranasally and found that they achieved direct access to the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within 30 minutes, bypassing the bloodstream.

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Figure 1: Peptide accumulation in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood.

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We thank A. Otterbein for technical assistance and W.M. Pardridge, University of California at Los Angeles, Department of Medicine, and S. Gizurarson, University of Iceland, Faculty of Pharmacy, for comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

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Correspondence to Jan Born.

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Born, J., Lange, T., Kern, W. et al. Sniffing neuropeptides: a transnasal approach to the human brain. Nat Neurosci 5, 514–516 (2002).

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