Role of ghrelin in the pathophysiology of eating disorders: implications for pharmacotherapy.
Cardona Cano S., Merkestein M., Skibicka KP., Dickson SL., Adan RA.
Ghrelin is the only known circulating orexigenic hormone. It increases food intake by interacting with hypothalamic and brainstem circuits involved in energy balance, as well as reward-related brain areas. A heightened gut-brain ghrelin axis is an emerging feature of certain eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and Prader-Willi syndrome. In common obesity, ghrelin levels are lowered, whereas post-meal ghrelin levels remain higher than in lean individuals. Agents that interfere with ghrelin signalling have therapeutic potential for eating disorders, including obesity. However, most of these drugs are only in the preclinical phase of development. Data obtained so far suggest that ghrelin agonists may have potential in the treatment of anorexia nervosa, while ghrelin antagonists seem promising for other eating disorders such as obesity and Prader-Willi syndrome. However, large clinical trials are needed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of these drugs.