Substance P and neurotensin in the limbic system: Their roles in reinforcement and memory consolidation
Substance P (SP) and neurotensin (NT) are neuropeptides isolated in the periphery and in the central nervous system. They are involved in various regulatory processes in the gastrointestinal tract, in the circulatory and respiratory systems, kidney and endocrine system. In addition to the peripheral effects, SP and NT act as neurotransmitters and neuromodulators in the central nervous system, regulating various behavioural actions, such as general and motor activity, pain, food and water intake, anxiety, reward/reinforcement and memory consolidation. In the limbic system SPergic and NTergic pathways, terminals and related receptors have been identified. According to several data of literature and to our recently published results, SP and NT have rewarding/reinforcing effects and facilitate memory consolidation in various limbic regions. In this report evidences are provided about the interaction of these neuropeptides with dopaminergic and acetylcholinergic systems. A hypothesis is presented that rewarding/reinforcing effects of SP and NT develop by modulating the mesencephalic dopaminergic system, while their mnemonic effects are mediated via the mesencephalic dopaminergic and the basal forebrain cholinergic systems.