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The neuropeptide S (NPS) and its receptor NPSR represent a transmitter system critically involved in the modulation of anxiety and arousal in rodents. Initial human studies indicate that the T-allele of the functional NPSR gene (NPSR1) polymorphism (rs324981), which increases NPS potency at NPSR, is associated with anxiety-related phenotypes. Since stress is critically involved in the pathogenesis of anxiety disorders, we tested the association between rs324981 and stress reactivity in 196 healthy males. Participants were exposed to the Trier Social Stress Test for Groups (TSST-G), a standardized laboratory protocol for stress exposure in a group format. Salivary cortisol and subjective stress responses were assessed. A significant genotype by time interaction and a main effect of genotype were shown, with T-allele carriers displaying larger cortisol and subjective stress responses. This is the first report to show involvement of the NPS system in the regulation of the neuroendocrine stress response in humans.

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