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Date of Original Version



Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences


Background: Accumulating evidence has established a role for the orexigenic hormone ghrelin in alcohol-seeking behaviors. Accordingly, the ghrelin system may represent a potential pharmacotherapeutic target for alcohol use disorder. Ghrelin modulates several neuroendocrine pathways, such as appetitive, metabolic, and stress-related hormones, which are particularly relevant in the context of alcohol use. The goal of the present study was to provide a comprehensive assessment of neuroendocrine response to exogenous ghrelin administration, combined with alcohol, in heavy-drinking individuals.

Methods: This was a randomized, crossover, double-blind, placebo-controlled human laboratory study, which included 2 experimental alcohol administration paradigms: i.v. alcohol self-administration and i.v. alcohol clamp. Each paradigm consisted of 2 counterbalanced sessions of i.v. ghrelin or placebo administration. Repeated blood samples were collected during each session, and peripheral concentrations of the following hormones were measured: leptin, glucagon-like peptide-1, pancreatic polypeptide, gastric inhibitory peptide, insulin, insulin-like growth factor-1, cortisol, prolactin, and aldosterone.

Results: Despite some statistical differences, findings were consistent across the 2 alcohol administration paradigms: i.v. ghrelin, compared to placebo, increased blood concentrations of glucagon-like peptide-1, pancreatic polypeptide, cortisol, and prolactin, both acutely and during the whole session. Lower levels of leptin and higher levels of aldosterone were also found during the ghrelin vs placebo session.

Conclusion: These findings, gathered from a clinically relevant sample of heavy-drinking individuals with alcohol use disorder, provide a deeper insight into the complex interplay between ghrelin and appetitive, metabolic, and stress-related neuroendocrine pathways in the context of alcohol use.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology





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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication 1.0 License.