Am J Cardiovasc Dis 2011;1(1):48-59

Original Article
Plasma neuropeptide Y (NPY) and alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone
(a-MSH) levels in patients with or without hypertension and/or obesity: a
pilot study

Maria Baltazi, Niki Katsiki, Christos Savopoulos, Fotios Iliadis, George Koliakos, Apostolos I. Hatzitolios

First Propedeutic Department of Internal Medicine, AHEPA Hospital, Medical School, Aristotles University of Thessaloniki ,
Greece; Department of  Biochemistry, Medical School, Aristotles University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Received April 20, 2011; accepted April; Epub April; Published May 1, 2011

Abstract: Aim: Obesity frequently co-exists with hypertension (HTN). Hypothalamus neuropeptides such as neuropeptide Y
(NPY) and alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (a-MSH) interact with leptin, an anorexic peptide produced mainly by
adipose tissue and are involved in the regulation of appetite, energy balance and sympathetic nervous system (SNS)
activity, possibly contributing to blood pressure elevation. We compared plasma NPY and a-MSH levels between patients
with or without hypertension and/or obesity  and the differences in these neuropeptides between patients with or without
pathological heart echo findings, aiming  to investigate the possible role of these peptides in obesity induced HTN.
Patients and Methods: 160 non-diabetic, treatment-naïve individuals were randomly recruited from our outpatient clinics.
Study population was divided into 6 groups, according to body mass index-BMI (OB=obese, OW=overweight, NW=normal
weight) and blood pressure (BP). Waist circumference (WC) and heart rate (HR) were also recorded. A heart echo was
performed and plasma NPY and a-MSH levels were measured for all participants. Results: Plasma NPY levels and HR
were higher in OW and OB hypertensives compared with NW hypertensives. OW and OB hypertensives had also higher
NPY concentrations compared with OW and OB normotensives, respectively. However, in NW patients, plasma NPY
concentrations did not differ between hypertensives and normotensives. Patients with central obesity (COB) had also
higher NPY levels compared with patients without COB, a difference also observed in hypertensives but not in
normotensive patients. Furthermore, plasma NPY concentrations were significantly correlated with BMI, WC, HR, systolic
and diastolic BP. Patients with left ventricle hypertrophy had higher plasma NPY levels compared with those with normal
findings, but this was not seen in hypertensives. The majority of these differences were also observed in male and female
patient populations. In contrast, plasma a-MSH levels were similar in all study groups. Conclusions: These results
suggest that NPY may be involved in obesity-related HTN, possibly via increased SNS activity. Further investigation is
needed to elucidate the role of both NPY and a-MSH in obesity-related HTN.  (AJCD1104003).

Keywords: Neuropeptide Y, alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone, obesity, hypertension

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Address all correspondence to:
Dr.  Apostolos Hatzitolios
1st Propedeutic Department of Internal Medicine
AHEPA Hospital, Medical School, Aristotles University of Thessaloniki
Greece.
E-mail:
axatzito@med.auth.gr
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