Introduction: Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is a highly conserved neuropeptide belonging to the pancreatic polypeptide family. Its potential role in the etiology and pathophysiology of mood and anxiety disorders has been extensively studied. NPY also has effects on feeding behavior, ethanol intake, sleep regulation, tissue growth and remodeling. Findings from animal studies have delineated the physiological and behavioral effects mediated by specific NPY receptor subtypes, of which Y1 and Y2 are the best understood.
Areas covered: Physiological roles and alterations of the NPYergic system in anxiety disorders, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol dependence and epilepsy. For each disorder, studies in animal models and human investigations are outlined and discussed, focusing on behavior, neurophysiology, genetics and potential for novel treatment targets.
Expert opinion: The wide implications of NPY in psychiatric disorders such as depression and PTSD make the NPYergic system a promising target for the development of novel therapeutic interventions. These include intranasal NPY administration, currently under study, and the development of agonists and antagonists targeting NPY receptors. Therefore, we are proposing that via this mode of administration, NPY might exert CNS therapeutic actions without untoward systemic effects. Future work will show if this is a feasible approach.