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Funded Studies

Ghrelin Concentrations in CSF and Corresponding Serum Samples in PD Patients and Controls

The aim of this study is to establish a valid method for measuring ghrelin concentrations in human cerebrospinal fluid samples. Ghrelin is an appetite-stimulating hormone with multiple other functions including modulation of higher brain functions (e.g., mood, cognition, etc.). Recently, researchers demonstrated a neuroprotective effect of ghrelin in a Parkinson’s disease pre-clinical model. In a previous study, we showed that Parkinson’s disease patients have lower ghrelin blood concentrations than controls. We now aim to investigate ghrelin concentrations in the brain by measuring ghrelin concentrations in human cerebrospinal fluid samples.

Project Description: 
In a first step we will establish a method that allows reliable and reproducible detection of ghrelin in human cerebrospinal fluid samples. We will then utilize this tool to test ghrelin’s potential as an early Parkinson’s disease biomarker.

Relevance to Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:  
Having a biomarker for early PD would aid in early diagnosis. The results of this diagnostic study could also have therapeutic implication, as a ghrelin deficit in Parkinson’s disease would be amenable to pharmacological intervention (i.e., by treatment with ghrelin agonists or by stimulation of the endogenous ghrelin production).

Anticipated Outcome: 
By carrying out this study we expect to learn more about the diurnal pattern and the link between ghrelin concentrations in the blood and ghrelin concentrations in the brain. We also expect to learn whether or not ghrelin concentrations in the cerebrospinal fluid will provide helpful information in the diagnostic work-up of (early) Parkinson’s disease.

Progress Report

Our experiments show that ghrelin concentrations in human cerebrospinal fluid samples can be measured reliably and reproducibly with a commercially available assay.

In a pilot approach we also retrospectively analysed 95 cerebrospinal fluid (and corresponding blood) samples from our biosample repository. The results indicate that Parkinson’s disease patients might have lower cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of ghrelin compared with controls and other medical conditions. These preliminary data need to be reproduced in CSF samples that are collected under standardized conditions (time of day, energy status etc.).

 December 2012


  • Marcus M. Unger, MD

    Homburg/Saar Germany

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