Gut-brain axis offers clues to treatments for addictive disorders

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Illustration of the ghrelin system
Image by @Shutterstock

Scientists have investigated how the stomach-derived hormone ghrelin affects alcohol-seeking behaviors, discovering for the first time in humans that administration of ghrelin intravenously significantly increased alcohol intake in heavy drinking participants. This discovery illuminates the ghrelin system as a possible target for addictive disorders. Scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Intramural Research Programs conducted this research. NIDA and NIAAA are part of the National Institutes of Health.


  • Farokhnia M, Grodin E, et al. Exogenous ghrelin administration increases alcohol self-administration and modulates brain functional activity in heavy-drinking alcohol-dependent individuals.  Molecular Psychiatry.