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Papers of the Week

Papers: 24 Jun 2023 - 30 Jun 2023


Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology


2023 Jun 25

Neurobiol Learn Mem


The functional heterogeneity of PACAP: Stress, learning, and pathology.


Rajbhandari AK, Barson JR, Gilmartin MR, Hammack SE, Chen BK


Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide (PACAP) is a highly conserved and widely expressed neuropeptide that has emerged as a key regulator of multiple neural and behavioral processes. PACAP systems, including the various PACAP receptor subtypes, have been implicated in neural circuits of learning and memory, stress, emotion, feeding, and pain. Dysregulation within these PACAP systems may play key roles in the etiology of pathological states associated with these circuits, and PACAP function has been implicated in stress-related psychopathology, feeding and metabolic disorders, and migraine. Accordingly, central PACAP systems may represent important therapeutic targets; however, substantial heterogeneity in PACAP systems related to the distribution of multiple PACAP isoforms across multiple brain regions, as well as multiple receptor subtypes with several isoforms, signaling pathways, and brain distributions, provides both challenges and opportunities for the development of new clinically-relevant strategies to target the PACAP system in health and disease. Here we review the heterogeneity of central PACAP systems, as well as the data implicating PACAP systems in clinically-relevant behavioral processes, with a particular focus on the considerable evidence implicating a role of PACAP in stress responding and learning and memory. We also review data suggesting that there are sex differences in PACAP function and its interactions with sex hormones. Finally, we discuss both the challenges and promise of harnessing the PACAP system in the development of new therapeutic avenues and highlight PACAP systems for their critical role in health and disease.