Ghrelin Peptides: a link between appetite/reward, GH axis, and psychiatric disorders?
Psychiatric disorders are often associated with metabolic and hormonal alterations, including obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome as well as modifications in several biological rhythms including appetite, stress, sleep–wake cycles, and secretion of their corresponding endocrine regulators. Among the gastrointestinal hormones that regulate appetite and adapt the metabolism in response to nutritional, hedonic, and emotional dysfunctions, at the interface between endocrine, metabolic, and psychiatric disorders, ghrelin plays a unique role as the only one increasing appetite. The secretion of ghrelin is altered in several psychiatric disorders (anorexia, schizophrenia) as well as in metabolic disorders (obesity) and in animal models in response to emotional triggers (psychological stress …) but the relationship between these modifications and the physiopathology of psychiatric disorders remains unclear. Recently, a large literature showed that this key metabolic/endocrine regulator is involved in stress and reward-oriented behaviors and regulates anxiety and mood. In addition, preproghrelin is a complex prohormone but the roles of the other ghrelin-derived peptides, thought to act as functional ghrelin antagonists, are largely unknown. Altered ghrelin secretion and/or signaling in psychiatric diseases are thought to participate in altered appetite, hedonic response and reward.