Wising up to NPYs

In the mid-1990s, neuropeptide Y was thought to be a promising obesity target based on its activity in the CNS as a potent feeding stimulator. However, the approach didn't succeed and only one company is still working in that space. But in a turn of events, two new studies now suggest that the peptide hormone could actually be a target in atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.

One study, published inPublic Library of Science Genetics by a team at Duke University School of Medicine, links mutations near the gene encoding neuropeptide Y (NPY) to higher risk of early onset CAD.1

A second study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, examined the synthesis and secretion of an NPY variant associated with atherosclerosis in Scandinavian families.2

NPY and its receptors traditionally have been studied in the CNS, where they regulate appetite, emotion and libido. However, previous rat studies did hint that NPY signaling could affect recovery from arterial injury, which can trigger CAD.3

The Duke study shores up NPY's cardiovascular function with human genomewide association data and experiments in mice linking the peptide and one of its

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