Hormone increases eating during stressful times

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 7, 2008

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A hormone known to play a role in appetite regulation increases food intake while suppressing depression and anxiety during times of stress, according to a study published online in Nature Neuroscience last month and due to be in a future print edition.

Researchers stimulated production of ghrelin in mice by restricting what they ate. Some were also injected with the substance. They were then subjected to stressful situations such as running a maze, a forced swim test or encounters with more aggressive mice. Those with high levels of this hormone were less likely to experience depression or anxiety and tended to eat more for up to four weeks after the high-stress incident.

"Our findings support the idea that these hunger hormones don't do just one thing. They coordinate an entire behavioral response to stress and probably affect mood, stress and energy levels," said Michael Lutter, MD, PhD, lead author and instructor of psychiatry at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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