Ghrelin is a hormone that is most often associated with hunger and appetite regulation. However, less is known about how ghrelin also plays a role in the brain. Past research has shown that ghrelin is specifically important for the hippocampus, an area of the brain important for memory and learning.
A recent animal study has found that ghrelin can also help prevent neuron degeneration and improve motor function after a traumatic brain injury. Ghrelin was administered to animals both immediately after and one hour after injury. The results showed significant reduction in neural degeneration in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex (an area of the brain important for motor skills and balance), as well as reduced overall brain volume loss. When tested with a simple motor task, the animals administered with ghrelin showed improved motor timing and performance.
Further research is needed, but ghrelin shows promise as a clinical intervention after traumatic brain injury.
Lopez NE, Lindsay G, Mary HA, et al. Ghrelin decreases motor deficits after traumatic brain injury. Journal of Surgical Research. (March 2014).