Neuropeptide Y promotes sleep and inhibits ACTH and cortisol release in young men

Neuropharmacology. 2000 Jun 8;39(8):1474-81. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3908(00)00057-5.


Anxiolytic and sedative effects of neuropeptide Y (NPY) are thought to involve inhibition of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). Enhanced secretion of CRH plays a critical role in the pathophysiology of major depression, characterized by sleep disturbances, anxiety and loss of appetite. We examined for the first time in young men effects of intravenous injections of NPY (4x50 or 100 microg, n = 9 and 11, respectively, at 22.00, 23.00, 24. 00 and 01.00 compared to saline) on the sleep electroencephalogram (EEG; recorded from 23.00 to 07.00) and nocturnal secretion of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), cortisol, growth hormone (GH), prolactin and leptin. Repeated measures MANOVA showed that ACTH secretion during the first half of the night was reduced by the lower dose of NPY only (F = 8.7, p<0.05), while cortisol secretion during the second half of the night was reduced regardless of the dose (F = 7.9, p<0.05). Regardless of the dose, NPY enhanced sleep period time and stage 2 sleep (F = 12.8 and 5.4, each p<0.05), and also reduced sleep latency and time awake (F = 4.9 and 4.4, each p<0.05) and modulated REM sleep. In summary, NPY promotes sleep and inhibits the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis in humans, pointing to a possible role of NPY agonists for the development of novel treatment strategies for affective disorders.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / drug effects*
  • Adult
  • Appetite / drug effects
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Electroencephalography
  • Growth Hormone / blood
  • Growth Hormone / drug effects
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Leptin / blood
  • Male
  • Neuropeptide Y / pharmacology*
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Prolactin / drug effects
  • Sleep Stages / drug effects*
  • Sleep Stages / physiology


  • Leptin
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Prolactin
  • Growth Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone