The development of amphetamine dependence largely depends on the effects of amphetamine in the brain reward systems. Ghrelin, an orexigenic peptide, activates the reward systems and is required for reward induced by alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and amphetamine in mice. Human genetic studies have shown that polymorphisms in the pre-proghrelin (GHRL) as well as GHS-R1A (GHSR) genes are associated with high alcohol consumption, increased weight and smoking in males. Since the heritability factor underlying drug dependence is shared between different drugs of abuse, we here examine the association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and haplotypes in the GHRL and GHSR, and amphetamine dependence. GHRL and GHSR SNPs were genotyped in Swedish amphetamine dependent individuals (n = 104) and controls from the general population (n = 310). A case-control analysis was performed and SNPs and haplotypes were additionally tested for association against Addiction Severity Interview (ASI) composite score of drug use. The minor G-allele of the GHSR SNP rs2948694, was more common among amphetamine dependent individuals when compared to controls (pc = 0.02). A significant association between the GHRL SNP rs4684677 and ASI composite score of drug use was also reported (pc = 0.03). The haplotype analysis did not add to the information given by the individual polymorphisms. Although genetic variability of the ghrelin signalling system is not a diagnostic marker for amphetamine dependence and problem severity of drug use, the present results strengthen the notion that ghrelin and its receptor may be involved in the development of addictive behaviours and may thus serve as suitable targets for new treatments of such disorders. © 2013 Suchankova et al.
Suchankova, P., Jerlhag, E., Jayaram-Lindström, N., Nilsson, S., Toren, K., Rosengren, A., … Franck, J. (2013). Genetic Variation of the Ghrelin Signalling System in Individuals with Amphetamine Dependence. PLoS ONE, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0061242