Effects of drugs of abuse on the central neuropeptide Y system

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Abstract

Neuropeptide Y (NPY), which is widely expressed in the central nervous system is involved in several neuropathologies including addiction. Here we comprehensively and systematically review alterations on the central NPY system induced by several drugs. We report on the effects of psychostimulants [cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and nicotine], ethanol, and opioids on NPY protein levels and expression of different NPY receptors. Overall, expression and function of NPY and its receptors are changed under conditions of drug exposure, thus affecting several physiologic behaviors, such as feeding, stress and anxiety. Drugs of abuse differentially affect the components of the NPY system. For example methamphetamine and nicotine lead to a consistent increase in NPY mRNA and protein levels in different brain sites whereas ethanol and opioids decrease NPY mRNA and protein expression. Drug-induced alterations on the different NPY receptors show more complex regulation pattern. Manipulation of the NPY system can have opposing effects on reinforcing and addictive properties of drugs of abuse. NPY can produce pro-addictive effects (nicotine and heroin), but can also exert inhibitory effects on addictive behavior (AMPH, ethanol). Furthermore, NPY can act as a neuroprotective agent in chronically methamphetamine and MDMA-treated rodents. In conclusion, manipulation of the NPY system seems to be a potential target to counteract neural alterations, addiction-related behaviors and cognitive deficits induced by these drugs.

Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is involved in several neuropathologies including addiction. Here we comprehensively and systematically review alterations on the central NPY system induced by several drugs. Overall, expression and function of NPY and its receptors are changed under conditions of drug exposure. Further, manipulation of the NPY system seems to be a potential target to counteract neural alterations, addiction-related behaviors and cognitive deficits induced by these drugs.

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