TNF-α and Ghrelin: Opposite Effects on Immune System, Metabolism and Mental Health

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Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) is a glycoprotein hormone with important functions in inflammation and apoptosis. It plays a significant role as a pro-inflammatory cytokine in the defense against viral, bacterial and parasitic infections and autoimmune disorders. Furthermore, it influences energy homeostasis and has an anorexigenic effect on the hypothalamus. TNF-α has also been shown to be involved in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders such as depression or narcolepsy.

Ghrelin is a peptide hormone which primarily regulates eating behavior through modulation of expression of orexigenic peptides in the hypothalamus. Ghrelin administration increases food intake and body weight, while weight loss in turn increases ghrelin levels. Secondly, it posesses anti-inflammatory properties. It also seems to have an impact on mental health as it is has been suggested to have antidepressant and anxiolytic properties.

Therefore, TNF-α and ghrelin seem to have opposite effects regarding the hypothalamic regulation of eating behavior, modulation of the immune response and the state of mental health.

Keywords: TNF receptor; TNF-alpha; appetite; ghrelin; immune system; psychiatric disorders; psychopharmacological drugs

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.
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