Purpose: To evaluate whether neuropeptide Y (NPY) is likely to be relevant as a regulator of cardiovascular function in general and of blood pressure control in arterial hypertension in particular, based on a literature survey.
Results of data analysis: NPY is a putative cotransmitter of many central and peripheral sympathetic neurons. It and its receptors are present in brain areas and peripheral tissues involved in cardiovascular regulation, and administration of exogenous NPY to these sites can elicit functional cardiovascular responses by acting on specific pre- and postsynaptic receptors. Moreover, NPY may act as a growth factor for the development of vascular and cardiac hypertrophy. The release of NPY and postsynaptic vasoconstriction responses to NPY may be enhanced in hypertension, whereas presynaptic inhibitory responses may be attenuated. Some of these alterations may precede the development of blood pressure elevations in the spontaneously hypertensive rat model of genetic hypertension.
Conclusions: NPY might be an important physiological and pathophysiological modulator of cardiovascular function, but further studies using specific high-affinity antagonists are required.