Alzheimer’s: “hunger hormone” linked to memory according to study

A group of researchers found links between ghrelin, defined as “hunger hormone,” in the brain and memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers analyzed brain tissue samples from patients with deceased Alzheimer’s and performed experiments on mice. The study was published in Science Translational Medicine.

Grelin is called “hunger hormone” because it has the task of sending signals to the brain to balance the energy supply and thus also the ingestion of new food. It plays a strong role in appetite but, as other studies have shown, it is also linked to learning and memory.

In a healthy hippocampus, the area of the brain crucial for learning and memory, ghrelin binds to certain dopamine receptors to form a protein complex that maintains a balanced level of communication between brain cells and therefore also memory itself.

In this study, researchers found that in the hippocampus beta amyloid binds to ghrelin receptors and this blocks the latter’s ability to bind to dopamine receptors.

Heng Du, associate professor at the University of Texas and one of the authors of the study, comments on the results of the research: “Our hypothesis is that this dissociation between the receptors of ghrelin and dopamine may be what is affecting cognition in Alzheimer’s patients. Since the brain loses the function of ghrelin receptors due to beta amyloid, the body tries to compensate by increasing ghrelin production and the number of ghrelin receptors. But the amyloid prevents the functioning of the receptors.”

The same researcher adds that, based on these results, Alzheimer’s itself could be linked to the resistance of ghrelin.

Links/Sources:

https://www.utdallas.edu/news/research/hunger-hormone-memory-alzheimers-2019/

https://stm.sciencemag.org/content/11/505/eaav6278

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