In the pathogenesis of many disorders, neuronal death plays a key role. It is now
assumed that neurodegeneration is caused by multiple and somewhat converging/overlapping
death mechanisms, and that neurons are sensitive to unique death styles. In this respect,
major advances in the knowledge of different types, mechanisms, and roles of neurodegeneration
are crucial to restore the neuronal functions involved in neuroprotection. Several
novel concepts have emerged recently, suggesting that the modulation of the neuropeptide
system may provide an entirely new set of pharmacological approaches. Neuropeptides
and their receptors are expressed widely in mammalian retinas, where they exert neuromodulatory
functions including the processing of visual information. In multiple models of retinal
diseases, different peptidergic substances play neuroprotective actions. Herein, we
describe the novel advances on the protective roles of neuropeptides in the retina.
In particular, we focus on the mechanisms by which peptides affect neuronal death/survival
and the vascular lesions commonly associated with retinal neurodegenerative pathologies.
The goal is to highlight the therapeutic potential of neuropeptide systems as neuroprotectants
in retinal diseases.