Ghrelin Serum Concentrations Are Associated with Treatment Response During Lithium Augmentation of Antidepressants

Roland Ricken, Sandra Bopp, Peter Schlattmann, Hubertus Himmerich, Tom Bschor, Christoph Richter, Samuel Elstner, Thomas J Stamm, Brigitte Schulz-Ratei, Alexandra Lingesleben, Friedel M Reischies, Philipp Sterzer, Stefan Borgwardt, Michael Bauer, Andreas Heinz, Rainer Hellweg, Undine E Lang, Mazda Adli

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Background: Lithium augmentation of antidepressants is an effective strategy in treatment-resistant depression. The proteohormone ghrelin is thought to be involved in the pathophysiology of depression. The purpose of this study was to investigate the association of treatment response with the course of ghrelin levels during lithium augmentation.

Method: Ghrelin serum concentrations and severity of depression were measured in 85 acute depressive patients before and after 4 weeks of lithium augmentation.

Results: In a linear mixed model analysis, we found a significant effect of response*time interaction (F1.81=9.48; P=.0028): under treatment, ghrelin levels increased in nonresponders and slightly decreased in responders to lithium augmentation. The covariate female gender had a significant positive effect (F1.83=4.69; P=.033), whereas time, response, appetite, and body mass index (kg/m2) did not show any significant effect on ghrelin levels (P>.05).

Conclusion: This is the first study showing that the course of ghrelin levels separates responders and nonresponders to lithium augmentation. Present results support the hypothesis that ghrelin serum concentrations might be involved in response to pharmacological treatment of depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)692-697
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number9
Early online date22 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Journal Article


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