NYMC Faculty Publications


Potential of Intranasal Neuropeptide Y (NPY) and/or Melanocortin 4 Receptor (MC4R) Antagonists for Preventing or Treating PTSD

Document Type


Publication Date

March 2018


Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


There is a great need for effective treatment options for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is associated with resilience to traumatic stress. MC4R antagonists, such as HS014, also reduce response to stress. Both regulate stress-responsive systems - the hypothalamic-pituitary-axis (HPA) and the noradrenergic nervous system and their associated behaviors. Therefore, we examined if their intranasal delivery to brain could attenuate development of PTSD-related symptoms in single prolonged stress (SPS) rodent PTSD model. Three regimens were used: (1) prophylactic treatment 30 min before SPS stressors, (2) early intervention right after SPS stressors, (3) therapeutic treatment when PTSD behaviors are manifested 1 wk or more after the traumatic stress. NPY delivered by regimen 1 or 2 prevented SPS-triggered elevation in anxiety, depressive-like behavior, and hyperarousal and reduced dysregulation of HPA axis. Hypothalamic CRH mRNA and GR in ventral hippocampus were significantly induced in vehicle- but not NPY-treated group. NPY also prevented hypersensitivity of LC/NE system to novel mild stressor and induction of CRH in amygdala. Some of these impairments were also reduced with HS014, alone or together with NPY. When given after symptoms were manifested (regiment 3), NPY attenuated anxiety and depressive behaviors. This demonstrates strong preclinical proof of concept for intranasal NPY, and perhaps MC4R antagonists, for non-invasive early pharmacological interventions for PTSD and comorbid disorders and possibly also as therapeutic strategy.