Ghrelin is a multifunctional peptide hormone with roles in growth hormone release, food intake and cell proliferation. With ghrelin now recognized as important in neoplastic processes, the aim of this report is to present findings from a series of in vitro studies evaluating the cellular mechanisms involved in ghrelin regulation of proliferation in the PC-3 human prostate carcinoma cells. The results showed that ghrelin significantly decreased proliferation and induced apoptosis. Consistent with a role in apoptosis, an increase in intracellular free Ca(2+) levels was observed in the ghrelin-treated cells, which was accompanied by up-regulated expression of T-type voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels. Interestingly, T-channel antagonists were able to prevent the effects of ghrelin on cell proliferation. These results suggest that ghrelin inhibits proliferation and may promote apoptosis by regulating T-type Ca(2+) channel expression.
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