Neuropeptide-Y, cortisol, and subjective distress in humans exposed to acute stress: replication and extension of previous report

Biol Psychiatry. 2002 Jul 15;52(2):136-42. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(02)01319-7.


Background: We previously reported that stress-related release of cortisol and neuropeptide-Y (NPY) were significantly and positively associated in U.S. Army soldiers participating in survival training. Furthermore, greater levels of NPY were observed in individuals exhibiting fewer psychologic symptoms of dissociation during stress. This study tested whether these findings would be replicated in a sample of U.S. Navy personnel participating in survival school training.

Methods: Psychologic as well as salivary and plasma hormone indices were assessed in 25 active duty personnel before, during, and 24 hours after exposure to U.S. Navy survival school stress.

Results: Cortisol and NPY were significantly and positively associated during stress and 24 hours after stress; NPY and norepinephrine (NE) were significantly and positively related during and 24 hours after stress. There was a significant, negative relationship between psychologic distress and NPY release during stress. Finally, psychologic symptoms of dissociation reported at baseline predicted significantly less NPY release during stress.

Conclusions: These data replicate our previous studies demonstrating that acute stress elicits NPY release and that this release is positively associated with cortisol and NE release. These data also replicate our previous finding that greater levels of NPY release are associated with less psychologic distress suggesting that NPY confers anxiolytic activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Male
  • Military Personnel / psychology
  • Neuropeptide Y / blood*
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Saliva / physiology
  • Stress, Physiological / blood*
  • Stress, Physiological / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / blood*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*


  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine