Ghrelin and seizures

Here's an intriguing new study about ghrelin and seizures (go figure), showing that people with epilepsy have significantly higher serum ghrelin levels than healthy individuals. The authors propose that high ghrelin levels may indicate a predisposition to seizure activity.

Given the recent study showing that ghrelin can influence neuronal connections in the hippocampus, this may not be as strange as it sounds on first pass (Ghrelin controls hippocampal spine synapse density and memory performance, Nat Neurosci 2006, Horvath, which I posted a couple of weeks ago). Another potential link: high ghrelin is found in sleep deprived individuals (and is capable of prolonging non-REM sleep). Sleep deprivation (decreased REM sleep) increases susceptibility to seizures (there’s a chicken and the egg question there).

It's worth noting that ghrelin is not the only hormone that has been reported to be different in patients with epilepsy. Also, the finding of elevated ghrelin levels in epilepsy will need to be confirmed by additional studies (it is a small study group, and the patients were on anti-seizure meds, which might confound the results). Nevertheless, I found it a very interesting link, perhaps with relevance to PWS.

Serum ghrelin levels are enhanced in patients with epilepsy.
Berilgen MS, Mungen B, Ustundag B, Demir C. Seizure. 2006 Mar;15(2):106-11.

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Theresa Strong


Theresa V. Strong, Ph.D., received a B.S. from Rutgers University and a Ph.D. in Medical Genetics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). After postdoctoral studies with Dr. Francis Collins at the University of Michigan, she joined the UAB faculty, leading a research lab focused on gene therapy for cancer and directing UAB’s Vector Production Facility. Theresa is one of the founding members of FPWR and has directed FPWR’s grant program since its inception. In 2016, she transitioned to a full-time position as Director of Research Programs at FPWR. She remains an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Genetics at UAB. She and her husband Jim have four children, including a son with PWS.

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