Objective: To investigate whether effects on food intake are seen in obese subjects receiving exogenous administration of ghrelin.
Design: Randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of intravenous ghrelin at doses 1 pmol/kg/min and 5 pmol/kg/min.
Subjects: In all, 12 healthy lean subjects (mean body mass index (BMI) 20.5+/-0.17 kg/m(2)) and 12 healthy overweight and obese subjects (mean BMI 31.9+/-1.02 kg/m(2)).
Measurements: Food intake, appetite and palatability of food, ghrelin and other obesity-related hormones, growth hormone.
Results: Low-dose infusion of ghrelin increased ad libitum energy intake at a buffet meal in the obese group only (mean increase 36.6+/-9.4%, P<0.01.) High-dose ghrelin infusion increased energy intake in both groups (mean increase 20.1+/-10.6% in the lean and 70.1+/-15.5% in the obese, P<0.01 in both cases.) Ghrelin infusion increased palatability of food in the obese group.
Conclusion: Ghrelin increases food intake in obese as well as lean subjects. Obese people are sensitive to the appetite-stimulating effects of ghrelin and inhibition of circulating ghrelin may be a useful therapeutic target in the treatment of obesity.