Col B S Nagial (Retd)
A peptide is a short chain of amino acids linked by peptide bonds. Peptides are usually identified by the number of amino acids in the chain. For example, dipeptides have two amino acids, tripeptides three, tetrapeptides four, and so on. (American Psychological Association, Dictionary). Peptides usually are considered to be short chains of two or more amino acids. On the other hand, proteins are long molecules made up of multiple peptide subunits and are also known as polypeptides. Peptides are also known as our particles of emotions, the symbolic representations of our feelings. They are the key to better medical management. Peptide originates from ‘peptein’, a Greek word for ‘pepsis’, which means to digest: the word or term was first coined in 1902 by Emil Fischer, a German chemist and Nobel Laureate. Furthermore, evidence shows that our gut typically produces them.
Peptides are tiny pieces of protein. Proteins are the first material of life as we know it. Peptides are made up of cords of amino acids of variable lengths, joined together in a necklace by solid bonds made of carbon and nitrogen. Between 10 and 100 amino acids that form a strong bond are called peptides. Between 100 to 200 are called polypeptides, and more than 200 are called proteins. Amino acids are the letters that, when united in specific sequences, form the words that are peptides or the sentences that are polypeptides or proteins. These make up a language that forms and directs every cell, organ and system inside the body, from the most profound sensations of the DNA molecule inside the nucleus of every cell to the macrocosmic systems function of the whole individual being.
More than 90 neuropeptides have been recognised so far, associated with mood changes, nerve, hormone and immune regulation. Well, known neuropeptides include the neurotransmitters that carry messages across synapses in the nervous system, growth factors, gut peptides, immune system modulators. A better term for the peptides might be informational substances. Other standard peptides include endorphins (our happy hormones), insulin (responsible for blood sugar control), vasopressin (responsible for blood pressure), serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter), etc.
The first peptide, secretin, was found in the gut. This amazed scientists as they thought all physiological functions were administered purely by electrical instincts from the brain and nervous system. Then the endogenous endorphins, enkephalin peptides that bind to the body’s own opiate (morphine-like) receptors inside the brain, were found. This led to a mad search for receptors and their binding peptides inside the brain, hence the pronoun ‘neuropeptides. It was only realised much later that every single peptide was made in many parts of the body, including the brain. Now we know that the peptides are produced throughout the whole body, e.g. immune cells, bone marrow, and gut cells have receptors for, and produce neuropeptides. The T & B-cells of the immune system interconnects with the brain and vice versa via the neuropeptides. Some emotions suppress lymphocyte (immune) function, and others may enhance it.
The complicated and complex communication network between cells, neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, hormones, immune system, blood and nerves, demands a remarkable orchestration of effective communication and integration of form and function for the body-mind to work as one healthy, balanced and integrated whole.
Candace Pert describes the mysterious energy connecting body to mind & emotions as the free flow of information carried by the biochemical of emotion: neuropeptides and their receptors – the information substances. The strong link between emotional responses and the biochemical change they produce specifically in the immune system forms the basis of the field known as psycho-neuro-immunology or PNI. Cortisol secreted during long term stress plays a role in immune suppression. Structural changes in the neuropeptides play a role in immune incompetence. Pert says: ‘it is possible now to conceive of mind and consciousness as an emanation of emotional information processing. As such, mind and consciousness would appear to be independent of the brain and body.
Emotions like bitterness, unresolved anger, resentment, fear, and worry constantly trigger your stress response. These then become buried in ever-deepening layers inside the cell memories. The layers become the physical footprints of your dream body, psyche or soul, manifesting in unhappiness, mood swings, and eventually, physical illness or chronic health problems. Once the cell memories are awakened, they can reach the conscious mind to contact your whole, integrated human being, leading to identifying the severe issues that might play a role in the disease process. Through this, the disease becomes a teacher, potentially leading to essential life lessons, personal and spiritual growth and healing from the inside out. The choice and free will to follow this path are yours! You can become all you are meant to be: successful from the inside, out!
Stress and depression can suppress the activity of lymphocytes, the white blood cells that are the body’s first line of defence against cancer and invading organisms. Neuropeptides cause chemical changes in the body that can improve or weaken the immune system. Once immune cells receive the stress response alarm, they undergo changes and begin to produce powerful chemicals. These substances allow the cells to regulate their own growth and behaviour, enlist the help of other immune cells, and direct them to the areas of invasion or other trouble spots.
Use of peptides in COVID-19.
Peptides, given to the patients for their physiological mechanism of action, have virtually no side effects. Many of them are geroprotectors and can be used in patients with chronic diseases. Peptides may prevent the development of the pathological process during COVID-19 by inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 virus proteins, thereby having immuno- and bronchoprotective effects on lung cells normalising the state of the stopping of a flow of the blood system.
Immunomodulatory peptides can be considered as one of the promising methods for the COVID-19 treatment. During the pandemic in China, the immunomodulating pentapeptide thymopentin, the active centre of the thymus hormone thymopoietin, was successfully used for COVID-19 therapy.
For the first time in humans, scientists have measured the release of a specific peptide that significantly increased when subjects were happy but decreased when they were sad. The findings have implications for the treatment of depression. The finding suggests that boosting hypocretin could elevate both mood and alertness in humans, thus laying the foundation for possible future treatments of psychiatric disorders like depression by targeting measurable abnormalities in brain chemistry.
When we eat… when we increase growth hormones in the body, we feel younger in so many ways. For example, you feel younger in your brain, thinking, clarity of your mind, mood, overall muscle energy, muscle recovery, building muscle, losing fat, sleeping more profoundly, more libido, and better sexual functioning, you get younger in your skin. In so many ways, you feel more youthful when your growth hormone levels are higher. So these releasing peptides are dramatic in making you feel better. But unlike other hormones like testosterone, the releasing peptides gradually increase growth hormone, and growth hormone is not immediate. It can take 3 to 4 months to feel like, ‘Wow, this is great.’ In the beginning, you sleep a little deeper, but later, you get the other effects of the hormones. So it’s a more gradual effect than just taking something like just testosterone which gives you results in 10 days. We have various other available hormones, which are not hormones; we call them peptides, releasing signalling peptides.
Col B S Nagial (Retd)