Little is known about ghrelin's effects on intestinal epithelial cells even though it is known to be a mitogen for a variety of other cell types. Because ghrelin is released in close proximity to the proliferative compartment of the intestinal tract, we hypothesized that ghrelin may have potent pro-proliferative effect on intestinal epithelial cells as well. To test this hypothesis, we characterized the effects of ghrelin on FHs74Int and Caco-2 intestinal epithelial cell lines in vitro. We found that ghrelin has potent dose dependent proliferative effects in both cell lines through a yet to be characterized G protein coupled growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R) subtype. Consistent with above findings, cell cycle flowcytometric analyses demonstrated that ghrelin shifts cells from the G1 to S phase and thereby promotes cell cycle progression. Further characterization of subcellular events, suggested that ghrelin mediates its pro-proliferative effect through Adenylate cyclase (AC)-independent epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) trans-activation and PI3K-Akt phosphorylation. Both these pathways converge to stimulate MAPK, ERK 1/2 downstream. The role of ghrelin in states where intestinal mucosal injury and rapid mucosal repair occur warrants further investigation.
Keywords: Ghrelin; Intestinal cells; Proliferation; Signaling.
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