Modulation of neuropeptide y levels is impaired in crack withdrawal patients

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Introduction: The dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis has a key role in drug addiction susceptibility. In addition to the well-known relationship between cortisol and the HPA axis, other molecules are involved with stress response and could modify the HPA activation, such as the neuropeptide Y (NPY), which has anxiolytic proprieties. There are few studies evaluating the effect of NPY levels on addiction, especially in crack cocaine dependence. Objective: To evaluate NPY in crack users during early withdrawal to determine its relationship with drug use and cortisol levels. Methods: We analyzed 25 male inpatient crack users. Serum NPY levels were measured at admission and discharge (mean of 24 days). Morning salivary cortisol was measured at admission. Results: Serum NPY levels at admission and discharge were very similar. Lower NPY levels at discharge were associated with higher lifetime crack use. Also, a negative correlation was found between morning cortisol and delta NPY (NPY discharge – NPY admission). Conclusion: These preliminary findings indicate that crack use influences the modulation of NPY levels and modifies stress response. The NPY pathway may play an important role in the pathophysiology of crack addiction, and the anxiolytic effect of NPY may be impaired in crack users. Future studies should consider NPY as a measurable indicator of the biological state in addiction.




Galland, F., Schuch, J. B., Silvello, D., Ligabue, K., Hansen, F., Scherer, J. N., … Diemen, L. von. (2020). Modulation of neuropeptide y levels is impaired in crack withdrawal patients. Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, 42(2), 147–152.

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