Neurotensin (NT) is a tridecapeptide which fulfills many of the requisite criteria for a role as a central nervous system (CNS) neurotransmitter. It is closely associated with CNS dopamine neurons and has been shown to interact with dopamine at physiological, anatomical and behavioral levels. Neurotensin is colocalized with dopaminergic neurons in the hypothalamus and midbrain. In addition, it blocks behaviors associated with activation of the dopaminergic pathways. Centrally administered NT has been shown to mimic many of the actions of antipsychotic drugs. In addition, the concentration of NT in cerebrospinal fluid is decreased in patients with schizophrenia. Administration of clinically effective antipsychotic drugs increases concentrations of NT in the caudate nucleus and nucleus accumbens. NT has been shown to play a role in signal transduction by mostly mobilizing calcium stores following inosital phosphate formation. This has been linked to subsequent events in protein phosphorylation. Lipophillic NT receptor agonists may represent a novel approach to the development of a new class of antipsychotic drugs.
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