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Neuropeptide Y and posttraumatic stress disorder

Abstract

Resiliency to the adverse effects of extraordinary emotional trauma on the brain varies within the human population. Accordingly, some people cope better than others with traumatic stress. Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is a 36-amino-acid peptide transmitter abundantly expressed in forebrain limbic and brain stem areas that regulate stress and emotional behaviors. Studies largely in rodents demonstrate a role for NPY in promoting coping with stress. Moreover, accruing data from the genetic to the physiological implicate NPY as a potential ‘resilience-to-stress’ factor in humans. Here, we consolidate findings from preclinical and clinical studies of NPY that are of relevance to stress-associated syndromes, most prototypically posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Collectively, these data suggest that reduced central nervous system (CNS) NPY concentrations or function may be associated with PTSD. We also link specific symptoms of human PTSD with extant findings in the NPY field to reveal potential physiological contributions of the neuropeptide to the disorder. In pursuit of understanding the physiological basis and treatment of PTSD, the NPY system is an attractive target.

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Acknowledgements

Dr Sah acknowledges support from VA Merit Award grant BX001075-01. Dr Geracioti acknowledges support from his VA Merit Award and Department of Defense funding. He is also founder of RxDino, LLC, which is developing dual corticosteroid treatments for skin disorders; he has received no financial support from this entity.

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Sah, R., Geracioti, T. Neuropeptide Y and posttraumatic stress disorder. Mol Psychiatry 18, 646–655 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2012.101

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Keywords

  • anxiety
  • fear
  • NPY
  • NPY receptors
  • PTSD
  • resilience
  • stress

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