Most neurons in the central nervous system co-express peptides alongside their principal transmitter, yet the function of these peptides is largely unknown. Vasopressin neurons of the hypothalamic supraoptic nucleus and paraventricular nucleus contain among the highest concentrations of dynorphin found in the brain. Dynorphin, an endogenous opioid peptide, is co-localized in the same neurosecretory vesicles as vasopressin and is released alongside vasopressin from the dendrites and axon terminals of vasopressin neurons. We and others have shown that neuropeptide release from the soma and dendrites of vasopressin neurons activates vasopressin receptors and κ-opioid receptors to cause activity-dependent modulation of vasopressin neuron activity, and that this is essential for activity patterning in vasopressin neurons.

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