Ghrelin's role in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis stress response: Implications for mood disorders

Sarah J. Spencer, Tim L. Emmerzaal, Tamas Kozicz, Zane B. Andrews

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

61 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ghrelin is a stomach hormone normally associated with feeding behavior and energy homeostasis. Recent studies highlight that ghrelin targets the brain to regulate a diverse number of functions, including learning, memory, motivation, stress responses, anxiety, and mood. In this review, we discuss recent animal and human studies showing that ghrelin regulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and affects anxiety and mood disorders, such as depression and fear. We address the neural sites of action through which ghrelin regulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and associated stress-induced behaviors, including the centrally projecting Edinger-Westphal nucleus, the hippocampus, amygdala, locus coeruleus, and the ventral tegmental area. Stressors modulate many behaviors associated with motivation, fear, anxiety, depression, and appetite; therefore, we assess the potential role for ghrelin as a stress feedback signal that regulates these associated behaviors. Finally, we briefly discuss important areas for future research that will help us move closer to potential ghrelin-based therapies to treat stress responses and related disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-27
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Volume78
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Centrally projecting Edinger-Westphal nucleus
  • Depression
  • Ghrelin
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
  • Paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus
  • Pituitary
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

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