A newly discovered bioactive peptide, neuropeptide tyrosine (NPY), has been found in the human cardiac nervous system. Dense concentrations of NPY-immunoreactive nerve fibres were found in association with nodal tissue (atrioventricular node 22·1±3·7 pmol/g). NPY nerve fibres were seen in close contact with cardiac muscle fibres and were also found around the coronary vessels (19·6±6·2 pmol/g). Analysis of the peptide by high-performance liquid chromatography demonstrated that it was present in a single molecular form, closely similar or identical to that of the isolated bioactive peptide. Cardiac function in man has long been known to be influenced by cholinergic and adrenergic nerves. There now appears to be a further component of the nervous system in the human heart, involving peptidergic nerves containing NPY.
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