Gender differences for ghrelin levels in alcohol-dependent patients and differences between alcoholics and healthy controls

Friedrich M. Wurst*, Iris Graf, Hans D. Ehrenthal, Silvia Klein, Jutta Backhaus, Sebastian Blank, Marc Graf, Lutz Pridzun, Gerhard A. Wiesbeck, Klaus Junghanns

*Corresponding author for this work
45 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Ghrelin is a 28-amino acid gut-brain peptide, mainly secreted by the gastric mucosa. Its effects are linked to energy homeostasis and particularly seem to increase hunger and food intake. In recent years, studies suggested that appetite-regulating peptides, such as ghrelin play a relevant role in alcoholism. Since data published to date on the potential role of ghrelin as state and/or trait marker in alcoholism and the association with craving are controversial, we aimed at further elucidating these aspects. Patients and Methods: One-hundred nine alcohol-dependent abstinent patients after withdrawal (27 f, 82 m), (ICD 10 F 10.25) and 45 healthy volunteers (12 f, 33 m) were included. Laboratory testing (Ghrelin RIA 90, Mediagnost Inc., Germany) was performed and several craving scales [Obsessive Compulsive Drinking Scale, Alcohol Urge Questionnaire and Visual Analogue Scale (VAS)] were applied at the beginning and at the end of the 3-week rehabilitation program. Results: (1) Ghrelin levels are significantly higher in female alcohol-dependent patients as compared to controls, not, however, in men alcoholics. (2) In several statistical subanalyses, an association of craving and ghrelin was found. The results, however, remain heterogeneous. Conclusion: The data suggest gender-dependent ghrelin levels in alcohol-dependent patients. We therefore conclude, that it might be useful to perform statistical analyses gender-specific. With regard to a potential correlation of ghrelin and craving the results seem to depend on gender, duration of the abstinence period and the instrument used.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)2006-2011
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 12.2007

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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