In vivo characterization of high Basal signaling from the ghrelin receptor

Endocrinology. 2009 Nov;150(11):4920-30. doi: 10.1210/en.2008-1638. Epub 2009 Oct 9.


The receptor for the orexigenic peptide, ghrelin, is one of the most constitutively active 7TM receptors known, as demonstrated under in vitro conditions. Change in expression of a constitutively active receptor is associated with change in signaling independent of the endogenous ligand. In the following study, we found that the expression of the ghrelin receptor in the hypothalamus was up-regulated approximately 2-fold in rats both during 48-h fasting and by streptozotocin-induced hyperphagia. In a separate experiment, to probe for the effect of the high basal signaling of the ghrelin receptor in vivo, we used intracerebroventricular administration by osmotic pumps of a peptide [D-Arg(1), D-Phe(5), D-Trp(7,9), Leu(11)]-substance P. This peptide selectively displays inverse agonism at the ghrelin receptor as compared with an inactive control peptide with just a single amino acid substitution. Food intake and body weight were significantly decreased in the group of rats treated with the inverse agonist, as compared with the groups treated with the control peptide or the vehicle. In the hypothalamus, the expression of neuropeptide Y and uncoupling protein 2 was decreased by the inverse agonist. In a hypothalamic cell line that endogenously expresses the ghrelin receptor, we observed high basal activity of the cAMP response element binding protein, an important signaling transduction pathway for appetite regulation. The activation was further increased by ghrelin administration and decreased by administration of the inverse agonist. It is suggested that the high constitutive signaling activity is important for the in vivo function of the ghrelin receptor in the control of food intake and body weight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight*
  • Eating*
  • Gene Expression
  • Hyperphagia / chemically induced
  • Hyperphagia / genetics
  • Hyperphagia / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • Neuropeptide Y / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Ghrelin / genetics
  • Receptors, Ghrelin / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Streptozocin / adverse effects
  • Uncoupling Protein 2
  • Up-Regulation


  • Ion Channels
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Receptors, Ghrelin
  • Ucp2 protein, rat
  • Uncoupling Protein 2
  • Streptozocin