“Hunger Hormone” Suggests New Treatment Strategy for AD: Succeeded in Mice

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Scientists have discovered evidence suggesting that resistance to the “hunger hormone” ghrelin in the brain is linked to the cognitive impairments and memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).



Through observations of postmortem brain-tissue samples from Alzheimer’s patients and experiments with a mouse model of AD, the scientists looked into the relationship between ghrelin and learning and memory abilities. A possible treatment strategy for the incurable neurodegenerative disorder that affects about 5.8 million older adults in the U.S. was also suggested.





Ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone, is produced in the stomach and sends signals to the brain to regulate energy balance and body weight. It is usually linked to appetite and meal initiation, but is also implicated in learning and memory.


Ghrelin normally binds with ghrelin receptors, a protein in hippocampus, which combine with similarly activated receptors for the neurotransmitter dopamine. The two receptors then form a protein complex that helps maintain communication between brain cells which perform as the foundation of memory.



When a toxic buildup of protein fragments called amyloid beta binds to ghrelin receptors, however, the ability of ghrelin receptors to combine with dopamine receptors is blocked, causing cell death and damage in Alzheimer’s disease.


"Our hypothesis is that this dissociation between ghrelin and dopamine receptors may be what is affecting cognition in Alzheimer's patients," Dr. Heng Du, corresponding author of the study, said. "As the brain loses the function of ghrelin receptors due to amyloid beta, the body tries to compensate by increasing the production of ghrelin and the number of ghrelin receptors. But the amyloid prevents the receptors from functioning."




Proof of the hypothesis 


The hypothesis is proved by observations in insulin production in patients of type 2 diabetes. The body produces more insulin to bind insulin receptors in the early stage of type 2 diabetes, but the insulin receptors are unable to be activated. Similarly, ghrelin receptors cannot be activated in Alzheimer’s patients.


Du’s team also gave experiments in mice, proving that when provided with compounds to activate dopamine receptors, the mice showed improved cognition and memory, and reduced lesions in the hippocampus.



Further research is needed, but targeting the mechanism might prove therapeutically useful, said Du.


"I'm starting to think of Alzheimer's as a systemic disorder, and that we should pay more attention to the metabolic and hormonal path of the disease."

4 Answers

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I have become so depressed  its alarming.  I literally stayed in bed for 5 straight months watching tv and sleeping . I have no energy at all and need help
Depression takes your energy and zaps life out of your body if you let it,if I was you I would have seeked help a long time ago,but it's not too late to take action call your doctor and set up an appointment talk and tell them what's going on they can set you up quicker with the right physician it can be controlled.I know first hand cause I been there done that.I felt like no one would understand or that my problems was bigger than anybody elses,I soon figured out that was it,I was letting problems of this world get me down and that everybody else had them to,When I started to pray it was much easier to deal with,my pastor said"ITS NOT WHAT YOU GO THRU ITS HOW YOU COME OUT" I will be the first to say I struggle sometime but I pick myself up and say THERE IS NO PROBLEM I HAVE THATS GREATER THAN GOD.
Thanks for sharing, BLESSED, I hope you can enjoy your life now and forever. And hey Autumn, don't give up, It's never too late to seek professional help.
Yes, Autumn. You do need help. You need to make an appointment with a personal/family physician as soon as possible. If you do not have insurance, or other means to pay them, be honest with them. They will be able to either take your case or direct you to someone who can. Setting up that appointment is going to take effort/determination, but is your first step toward actually living. Just do that now. TODAY. I and others will pray for you. I hope that you will give us an update when you have taken that first step. Oh, and turn that tv OFF! That will keep you from living a real life, and your statement above shows that it only adds to depression. Turn it OFF. Unplug it. Give it away. Dump it.
Morons eat lot.
Is there any sign of AD? My gran has AD, when we found it out, she has lost lots of her memory and could not think logically. I do wish I could have found out sooner.
So sorry to hear that. If you are caring for her, caregiving really takes patience and flexibility. Early signs of AD include:
Challenges in planning or solving problems
Changes in mood and personality
Confusion with time or place
Decreased or poor judgment
Difficulty completing familiar tasks
Memory loss that disrupts daily life
Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
New problems with words in speaking or writing
Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
Withdrawal from work or social activities
any ways to prevent the protein accumulating