Along with the increase in life expectancy over the last century comes the increased risk for development of age-related disorders, including metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases. These chronic disorders share two main characteristics: 1) neuronal loss in motor, sensory or cognitive systems, leading to cognitive and motor decline and 2) a strong correlation between metabolic changes and neurodegeneration. In order to treat them, a better understanding of their complexity is required: it is necessary to interpret the neuronal damage in light of the metabolic changes, and to find the disrupted link between the peripheral organs governing energy metabolism and the CNS. This review is an attempt to present ghrelin as part of molecular regulatory interface between energy metabolism, neuroendocrine and neurodegenerative processes. Ghrelin takes part in lipid and glucose metabolism, in higher brain functions such as sleep-wake state, learning and memory consolidation; it influences mitochondrial respiration and shows neuroprotective effect. All these make ghrelin an attractive target for development of biomarkers or therapeutics for prevention or treatment of disorders, in which cell protection and recruitment of new neurons or synapses are needed.
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