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  Serum ghrelin is positively associated with physiological anxiety but negatively associated with pathological anxiety in humans: Data from a large community-based study

Wittekind, D. A., Kratzsch, J., Mergl, R., Riedel-Heller, S., Witte, A. V., Villringer, A., et al. (2022). Serum ghrelin is positively associated with physiological anxiety but negatively associated with pathological anxiety in humans: Data from a large community-based study. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 140: 105728. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2022.105728.

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Wittekind, Dirk Alexander1, Author
Kratzsch, Jürgen2, Author
Mergl, Roland3, Author
Riedel-Heller, Steffi4, Author
Witte, A. Veronica5, Author              
Villringer, Arno5, Author              
Kluge, Michael1, Author
1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              
2Institute of Laboratory Medicine, Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics (ILM), University of Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              
3Institute of Psychology, Bundeswehr University Munich, Germany, ou_persistent22              
4Institute of Social Medicine, Occupational Health and Public Health (ISAP), University Hospital Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              
5Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634549              


Free keywords: Ghrelin; Generalized Anxiety Disorder; GAD-7; Panic Disorder; Stress
 Abstract: The orexigenic hormone ghrelin is being increasingly recognized as a stress hormone being involved in anxiety regulation. In animals, ghrelin effects on, and responses to acute stress differed from those in chronic stress, an animal model for anxiety and depression. In humans, elevated ghrelin levels were reported in pathological anxiety (e.g. panic disorder). However, no reports exist on physiological anxiety in mentally healthy subjects. In addition, reports on generalized anxiety symptoms, both in mentally healthy subjects (e.g. worrying) or in adult patients, are lacking. Total serum ghrelin was determined in 1666 subjects of a population-based cross-sectional study (‘LIFE’). The 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale (GAD-7), detecting also other anxiety disorders, was administered. For multiple linear regression analyses, 1091 subjects were finally included. Serum ghrelin and GAD-7 scores were positively but not significantly associated in the total group (ß=0.00025, standardized β = 0.039, 95%CI: −0.00006;0.0006;p = 0.144), in subjects with no more than mild anxiety, there was a significant positive association (GAD-7 ≤9: n = 1061, 97.25%, β = 0.00032; standardized β = 0.060; 95%CI: 0.000023;0.00062;p = 0.036). In contrast, there was a negative association in subjects with anxiety symptoms above the GAD-7 cut-off (GAD-7 ≥10: n = 30, 2.75%, ß=−0.003, standardized β = −0.462; 95% CI:−0.006;0.0001;p = 0.045). Ghrelin levels were only numerically (p = 0.23) higher in subjects with clinically relevant anxiety symptoms (963.5 ± 399.6 pg/ml; mean±SD) than in those without (901.0 ± 416.4 pg/ml). In conclusion, the positive association between ghrelin and no more than mild anxiety is an initial indication for a role for ghrelin in the regulation of physiological anxiety in humans. This association and the opposed association in pathological anxiety resemble findings in animals showing diverging ghrelin effects in acute and chronic stress.


Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2022-05-022021-08-312022-03-112022-03-142022-06
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: -
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2022.105728
Other: online ahead of print
PMID: 35305404
 Degree: -



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Title: Psychoneuroendocrinology
Source Genre: Journal
Publ. Info: Oxford : Pergamon
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 140 Sequence Number: 105728 Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 0306-4530
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/954925514499