Ghrelin is a novel gut-brain peptide that binds to the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R), thereby functioning in the regulation of growth hormone (GH) release and food intake. Ghrelin-producing cells are most abundant in the oxyntic glands of the stomach. The regulatory mechanism that governs the biosynthesis and secretion of ghrelin has not been clarified. We report that ghrelin mRNA expression in the gastric fundus was increased, but that ghrelin peptide content decreased after a 48-h fast. Both values returned to control levels after refeeding. The ghrelin plasma concentration in the gastric vein and systemic venous blood increased after 24- and 48-h fasts. Furthermore, des-octanoylated ghrelin and n-octanoylated ghrelin were found in rat stomach, with the ratio of des-octanoylated ghrelin to n-octanoylated ghrelin markedly increased after fasting. The ghrelin mRNA level in the stomach also increased after administration of insulin and leptin. Conversely, db/db mice, which are deficient in the leptin receptor, had lower ghrelin mRNA levels than control mice. These findings suggest that this novel gastrointestinal hormone plays a role in the regulation of energy balance.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.