[Appetite regulation by ghrelin - a novel neuro-endocrine gastric peptide hormone in the gut-brain-axis]

Z Gastroenterol. 2003 Sep;41(9):929-36. doi: 10.1055/s-2003-41853.
[Article in German]


Ghrelin a novel peptide consisting of 28 amino acids was first identified in the stomach in 1999. It is mainly produced in endocrine cells of the human gastric mucosa, but it was also found in several other tissues e. g. in the pituitary, the hypothalamus and the pancreas. The functional receptor belongs to the family of the 7-transmembrane G-protein receptors and is predominantly detected in the pituitary and at lower levels in hypothalamic nuclei, the stomach, heart, lungs, kidneys, gut, the adipose and many other tissues. According to the widespread distribution of the peptide and its receptor, ghrelin has multiple biological effects: it stimulates the release of growth hormone in the pituitary and induces a rise in the serum concentration of ACTH, cortisol, catecholamines and prolactin. Ghrelin causes an increase of food intake and body weight by stimulating the production of neuropeptide Y (NPY) and agouti-related protein (AGP) in the nucleus arcuatus. It further leads to elevated concentrations of plasma glucose. A physiological antagonism between ghrelin and GLP-1 in the hypothalamic regulation of appetite is being discussed. The basic serum level of ghrelin depends on the state of nutrition and is negatively correlated with the body-mass-index. It shows a certain pattern of variation before and after food intake with a preprandial increase and a postprandial decrease. Ghrelin modulates gastric acid secretion and the gastrointestinal motility via vagal cholinergic pathways. The discovery of ghrelin definitely contributes to the understanding of the growth-hormone secretion and of the regulation of appetite and food intake.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood
  • Animals
  • Appetite Regulation / physiology*
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Catecholamines / blood
  • Eating
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / physiology
  • Ghrelin
  • Growth Hormone / metabolism*
  • Growth Hormone / physiology
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hypothalamus / physiology*
  • Leptin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Neuropeptide Y / physiology
  • Nutritional Status
  • Peptide Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Peptide Hormones / analysis
  • Peptide Hormones / blood
  • Peptide Hormones / metabolism
  • Peptide Hormones / pharmacology*
  • Peptide Hormones / physiology*
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Stomach / drug effects
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Weight Gain


  • Blood Glucose
  • Catecholamines
  • Ghrelin
  • Leptin
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Peptide Hormones
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Prolactin
  • Growth Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone