Ghrelin in obesity and endocrine diseases

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2011 Jun 20;340(1):15-25. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2011.02.011. Epub 2011 Feb 21.


Ghrelin shows orexigenic effect through its action on the hypothalamic appetite-regulating pathways, while in the periphery ghrelin increases adipose tissue accumulation and has a diabetogenic effect on the liver and pancreas. Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) has been suggested as one of the mediators of ghrelin's effects. Plasma ghrelin levels are dependent on body mass index as well as food intake patterns. Ghrelin levels are in general reduced in obese individuals and in subjects with insulin resistance. In contrast to other forms of obesity, patients with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) display high levels of ghrelin, reduced visceral adiposity and relative hypoinsulinemia. Relationships between obesity and common genomic variants of GHRL and GHS-R genes have been studied. Ghrelin may have a role in the weight-reducing effect of bariatric surgery; however, this is a much debated issue. Altered ghrelin levels have also been observed in Cushing's syndrome and thyroid disease probably due to the secondary insulin resistance in these subjects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endocrine System Diseases / metabolism*
  • Ghrelin / genetics
  • Ghrelin / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / surgery
  • Receptors, Ghrelin / genetics


  • Ghrelin
  • Receptors, Ghrelin