A Randomized Dose-Ranging Study of Neuropeptide Y in Patients with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2018 Jan 1;21(1):3-11. doi: 10.1093/ijnp/pyx109.


Background: Anxiety and trauma-related disorders are among the most prevalent and disabling medical conditions in the United States, and posttraumatic stress disorder in particular exacts a tremendous public health toll. We examined the tolerability and anxiolytic efficacy of neuropeptide Y administered via an intranasal route in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder.

Methods: Twenty-six individuals were randomized in a cross-over, single ascending dose study into 1 of 5 cohorts: 1.4 mg (n=3), 2.8 mg (n=6), 4.6 mg (n=5), 6.8 mg (n=6), and 9.6 mg (n=6). Each individual was dosed with neuropeptide Y or placebo on separate treatment days 1 week apart in random order under double-blind conditions. Assessments were conducted at baseline and following a trauma script symptom provocation procedure subsequent to dosing. Occurrence of adverse events represented the primary tolerability outcome. The difference between treatment conditions on anxiety as measured by the Beck Anxiety Inventory and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory immediately following the trauma script represented efficacy outcomes.

Results: Twenty-four individuals completed both treatment days. Neuropeptide Y was well tolerated up to and including the highest dose. There was a significant interaction between treatment and dose; higher doses of neuropeptide Y were associated with a greater treatment effect, favoring neuropeptide Y over placebo on Beck Anxiety Inventory score (F1,20=4.95, P=.038). There was no significant interaction for State-Trait Anxiety Inventory score.

Conclusions: Our study suggests that a single dose of neuropeptide Y is well tolerated up to 9.6 mg and may be associated with anxiolytic effects. Future studies exploring the safety and efficacy of neuropeptide Y in stress-related disorders are warranted. The reported study is registered at: http://clinicaltrials.gov (ID: NCT01533519).

Keywords: anxiety; neuropeptide Y; posttraumatic stress disorder; resilience; stress; trauma.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropeptide Y / therapeutic use*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Neuroprotective Agents

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01533519