Over 46.8 million people worldwide suffer from dementia, a significant loss of mental ability which disrupts everyday activities. The main cause of dementia is neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. There is no cure for these diseases, therefore developing new treatments is essential in order to improve the quality of life of patients.
Limiting calories or nutrients, without a lack of nutrition, appears to be a robust method of protecting against the development of various diseases. It has been shown that the hormone ghrelin, which is released from the stomach during a limitation of calories or fasting, improves the performance of mice in memory tasks, by stimulating the development of nerve cells in the hippocampus. Moreover, ghrelin can protect nerve cells from death in Parkinson's models. By illustrating the specific mechanism behind the neuroprotective effects of ghrelin, it may be possible to develop new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, the aim of this research is to investigate the neuroprotective mechanism of ghrelin, looking mainly at whether there is a specific role for autophagy, a process where the cell digests old organelles and macromolecules in order to maintain homeostasis.