Pharmacopsychiatry 2003; 36 - 308
DOI: 10.1055/s-2003-825551

Ghrelin promotes slow-wave sleep in man

JC Weikel 1, K Held 1, A Wichniak 1, M Ising 1, DA Schmid 1, S Mathias 1, M Uhr 1, A Steiger 1
  • 1Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany

Objectives: Ghrelin, an endogenous ligand of the growth hormone (GH) secretagogue (GHS) receptor, stimulates GH release in humans. Synthetic ligands of the GHS receptor modulate sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) and nocturnal hormone secretion [1]. Besides GH-releasing hormone (GHRH) and somatostatin ghrelin may be involved in the regulation of GH secretion.

Method: We examined sleep and nocturnal hormone secretion after 4×50µg ghrelin or placebo iv.

Results: After ghrelin slow wave sleep (SWS) increased during the total night. Rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep was reduced during the second third of the night. GH and prolactin plasma levels were enhanced throughout the night, cortisol levels increased during the first part of the night.

Conclusion: Exogenous ghrelin influences sleep EEG and nocturnal hormone secretion. We suggest that ghrelin is an endogenous sleep promoting factor in humans. Furthermore ghrelin appears to be a stimulus of the somatotrophic and the HPA system.


[1] Steiger A, Growth hormone segretagogues and sleep in Growth Hormone Secretagogues, p. 285–300, Eds Ghigo E et al, Amsterdam, Elsevier, 1999