Serum ghrelin levels and the effects of antidepressants in major depressive disorder and panic disorder

Neuropsychobiology. 2012;66(3):185-92. doi: 10.1159/000339948. Epub 2012 Aug 29.


Background: Two opposing models for the action of ghrelin in the behavioral responses to stress were recently proposed. Some studies suggest that an increase in ghrelin contributes to the mechanisms responsible for the development of stress-induced depression and anxiety, while others suggest that it helps minimize what otherwise would be more severe manifestations of depression and anxiety following stress.

Methods: We measured serum ghrelin levels, Profile of Mood States (POMS) scores and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory scores in nonresponders (treatment-resistant patients; 30) and responders (38) with major depressive disorder (MDD), nonresponders (29) and responders (51) with panic disorder and 97 healthy controls.

Results: The ghrelin concentration in nonresponders with MDD was higher than that of responders with MDD and normal controls. The ghrelin concentration in nonresponders with panic disorder was higher than that of normal controls. POMS vigor scores in patients with MDD and panic disorder were significantly decreased compared with those in healthy controls. Other POMS scores in patients with MDD and panic disorder were significantly increased compared with those of healthy controls. Trait and state anxiety of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory in MDD and panic disorder patients were higher than those in healthy controls.

Conclusions: These results indicate that decreased serum ghrelin levels might be associated with antidepressant treatment to confer the maximum therapeutic effect in patients with MDD and panic disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / blood*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Ghrelin / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatients
  • Panic Disorder / blood*
  • Panic Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Ghrelin