Ghrelin modulates dopaminergic neuron formation and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder-like behaviors: From animals to human models

pubmed: wnt1 2021-05-27

Brain Behav Immun. 2021 May;94:327-337. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2020.12.029. Epub 2021 Jan 4.


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders in children. The orexigenic hormone ghrelin is important in neuroprotection and neurodevelopment, which may play an important role in psychopathogenesis of ADHD. This study aimed to systematically investigate the genomic and pharmacological manipulations of ghrelin functioning in ADHD-like symptoms in zebrafish models and validated the effects of ghrelin polymorphisms in human subjects with ADHD. We firstly generated ghrelinΔ/Δ zebrafish mutant, which displayed hyperactive, attention deficit-like and impulsive-like behaviors, as well as endophenotypes, mimicking human ADHD. GhrelinΔ/Δ zebrafish exhibited downregulated expression levels of wnt1, wnt3a, wnt5a that are critical for dopaminergic neuron development to possibly regulate their number and spatial organization. Pharmacological blockade of wnt signaling with XAV939 induced a reduced moving activity and less dopaminergic neurons; whereas, wnt agonist SB415286 rescued hyperactivity and dopaminergic neuron loss in ghrelinΔ/Δ zebrafish. In addition, we further identified and validated a SNP, rs696217, on orexigenic hormone preproghrelin/ghrelin (T408T, Met72Met) to be associated with a higher risk of ADHD in a case-controlled association study with 248 subjects with ADHD and 208 subjects of healthy controls. Together, our results reveal a novel endogenous role for orexigenic hormone ghrelin in ADHD, which provides insights into genetic regulation and drug screens for the identification of novel treatments of ADHD.

PMID:33412253 | DOI:10.1016/j.bbi.2020.12.029