Amino Acids

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 215–230 | Cite as

CCK and NPY as anti-anxiety treatment targets: promises, pitfalls, and strategies

  • J. Harro
Review Article


Short CCK peptides elicit panic attacks in humans and anxiogenic-like effects in some animal models, but CCK receptor antagonists have not been found clinically effective. Yet CCK overactivity appears to be involved in submissive behaviour, and CCKB receptor expression and binding are increased in suicide victims and animal models of anxiety. Preliminary data suggest that involvement of CCK and its receptor subtypes in anxiety can be better described when focusing on distinct endophenotypes, and considering environmental contingencies and confounds originating from interactions with dopamin-, opioid- and glutamatergic neurotransmission. In contrast, NPY is an anti-anxiety peptide with robust effects in various animal models when administrated into several brain regions. Studies with non-peptide antagonists selective for receptor subtypes have revealed the role of endogenous NPY in active coping. At least Y1, Y2 and Y5 receptors in various brain regions are involved, with the strongest evidence for contribution of Y1.

Keywords: Cholecystokinin – Neuropeptide Y – Anxiety – Panic – Suicide – Brain circuits 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Harro
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Psychopharmacological Drug Development Group, Centre of Behavioural and Health SciencesUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

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