Hormone Enhances Alcohol's Allure | July 6, 2009 Issue - Vol. 87 Issue 27 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 87 Issue 27 | p. 25 | Concentrates
Issue Date: July 6, 2009

Hormone Enhances Alcohol's Allure

Ghrelin not only increases appetite for food, it also stimulates the desire to have a drink
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: alcoholism, ghrelin

Ghrelin, the hormone known for eliciting hunger, also has a dark side: It increases the desire for alcohol, at least in mice, according to a newly published study (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0812809106). Elisabet Jerlhag of the University of Göteborg, in Sweden, and colleagues report that mice dosed with ghrelin drank more alcohol than normal. And when the team administered a compound that blocks the ghrelin receptor, the mice drank less alcohol than normal. Ghrelin signaling stimulates the brain’s reward system and is required for alcohol’s euphoric effects to occur, the researchers note. In addition, they cite prior research showing that alcohol craving in alcohol-dependent people is associated with elevated ghrelin levels and that ghrelin levels rise during alcohol withdrawal. The researchers propose that compounds with the ability to block the ghrelin receptor could have potential for treating alcohol abuse.

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