An Integrative Review on Role and Mechanisms of Ghrelin in Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Author(s): Anjana Bali and Amteshwar Singh Jaggi

Volume 17, Issue 5, 2016

Page: [495 - 507] Pages: 13

DOI: 10.2174/1389450116666150518095650

Price: $65


Ghrelin is orexigenic hormone primarily synthesized by endocrine X/A-like cells of gastric oxyntic mucosa to stimulate appetite and food intake along with regulation of growth hormone and insulin secretion; glucose and lipid metabolism; gastrointestinal motility; blood pressure, heart rate and neurogenesis. Furthermore, peripherally (after crossing the blood brain barrier) as well as centrally synthesized ghrelin (in the hypothalamus) regulates diverse functions of central nervous system including stress-associated behavioral functions. Exposure to stress alters the ghrelin levels and alteration in ghrelin levels significantly affects neuro-endocrinological parameters; metabolism-related physiology, behavior and mood. Studies have shown both anxiolytic and anxiogenic role of ghrelin suggesting its dual role in modulating anxiety-related behavior. However, it is proposed that increase in ghrelin levels during stress condition is an endogenous stress coping behavior and increased ghrelin levels may be required to prevent excessive anxiety. In preclinical and clinical studies, an elevation in ghrelin levels during depression has been correlated with their antidepressant activities. Ghrelin-induced modulation of stress and associated conditions has been linked to alteration in hypothalamic- pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis; autonomic nervous system (mainly sympathetic nervous system and serotonergic neurotransmission. A reciprocal relationship has been reported between corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and ghrelin as ghrelin increases the release of CRH, ACTH and corticosteroids; while CRH decreases the expression of ghrelin. Similarly, ghrelin increases the serotonin turnover and in turn, serotonin controls ghrelin signaling to modulate anxietyrelated behavior. The present review discusses the dual role of ghrelin in stress and related behavioral disorders along with possible mechanisms.

Keywords: Ghrelin, serotonin, stress, anxiety, depression, corticosteroids.

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