Yin and Yang - the Gastric X/A-like Cell as Possible Dual Regulator of Food Intake

J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2012 Apr;18(2):138-49. doi: 10.5056/jnm.2012.18.2.138. Epub 2012 Apr 9.


Ingestion of food affects secretion of hormones from enteroendocrine cells located in the gastrointestinal mucosa. These hormones are involved in the regulation of various gastrointestinal functions including the control of food intake. One cell in the stomach, the X/A-like has received much attention over the past years due to the production of ghrelin. Until now, ghrelin is the only known orexigenic hormone that is peripherally produced and centrally acting to stimulate food intake. Subsequently, additional peptide products of this cell have been described including desacyl ghrelin, obestatin and nesfatin-1. Desacyl ghrelin seems to be involved in the regulation of food intake as well and could play a counter-balancing role of ghrelin's orexigenic effect. In contrast, the initially proposed anorexigenic action of obestatin did not hold true and therefore the involvement of this peptide in the regulation of feeding is questionable. Lastly, the identification of nesfatin-1 in the same cell in different vesicles than ghrelin extended the function of this cell type to the inhibition of feeding. Therefore, this X/A-like cell could play a unique role by encompassing yin and yang properties to mediate not only hunger but also satiety.

Keywords: Desacyl ghrelin; Eating; Ghrelin; Nucleobindin; Obesity; Obestatin; Stomach.