Tatemoto and Mutt recently used the presence of a C-terminal NH2 group to identify and isolate a new peptide, neuropeptide Y (NPY), from porcine brain1. This 36 amino acid peptide was subsequently shown to be active on isolated vas deferens, vascular smooth muscle and pancreatic acinar cells in very low molar concentrations2-4. In view of these potent effects we have now investigated its distribution in the human brain by radio-immunoassay and immunocytochemistry. High concentrations of NPY have been found, exceeding those of cholecystokinin and somatostatin, hitherto considered to be the most abundant neuropeptides. The distribution of NPY was different from that of any other peptide system described, being particularly concentrated in the basal ganglia, amygdala and nucleus accum-bens. Immunocytochemistry demonstrated a large number of NPY neuronal cell bodies especially in the caudate and puta-men. Immunoreactive neuronal cell bodies were also clearly localized in cortical areas, particularly layers V and VI. NPY, a newly discovered peptide with potent biological activity, thus seems to be among the most abundant of human neuropeptides. The massive numbers of NPY neurones in the basal ganglia suggest NPY to be of fundamental importance in the control of human motor function.
ASJC Scopus subject areas