This is new research related to scoliosis, just published here: Fasting total ghrelin levels are increased in patients with AIS
When the stomach is empty, ghrelin is produced by the body. Ghrelin acts on the brain cells both to increase hunger, and to increase production of bodily acid to prepare the body for food intake.
Ghrelin has also been linked with learning. It has been learning may be best during the day and when the stomach is empty since ghrelin levels are higher at these times. Ghrelin has also been linked with depression (positive effects), duration of sleep (negative effects), and fertility (negative effects). However, as would otherwise be suspected, ghrelin does not seem to contribute to obesity.
So, now, ghrelin has also been linked with scoliosis – the non-congenital form, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). 49 AIS girls were measured and compared against a control group of 15 non-scoliosis persons. The ghrelin level was 1.8 times as high in the AIS patients than in the control group. The study suggests that ghrelin may play a role in the initiation or development of AIS.
It is well-known that girls with AIS have significantly lower body weight and lower BMI compared to healthy counterparts during the early and middle puberty. So since ghrelin levels are higher in thin people, it seems obvious that the AIS girls in general would have higher levels than others. Other researchers have linked the low BMI of AIS patients to hormonal alterations also involved in the onset of scoliosis. Indeed, the increased ghrelin levels may also explain other abnormal findings in AIS such as delayed puberty and bone demineralization.
So what does this mean in relation to future treatment and avoidance of scoliosis? Of course, the study population was quite small so results are uncertain, at best.
However, potentially, this means that in the future ghrelin could be used as an element in a treatment to avoid or reduce the development of scoliosis in young patients. Scoliosis is known to be partly genetic and there is already tests on the market that can indicate the likelihood of a child developing scoliosis so combined with this it may bring some hope.
The researchers end by writing that ghrelin that is administered intravenously leads to increased bone mass, appetite increase and food intake stimulation. Possibly, if scoliosis is really an effect of increased ghrelin levels then a ghrelin supplement may also help in reducing the development of scoliosis.