Ghrelin ameliorates tumor-induced adipose tissue atrophy and inflammation via Ghrelin receptor-dependent and -independent pathways

Oncotarget. 2020 Sep 1;11(35):3286-3302. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.27705.


Adipose tissue (AT) atrophy is a hallmark of cancer cachexia contributing to increased morbidity/mortality. Ghrelin has been proposed as a treatment for cancer cachexia partly by preventing AT atrophy. However, the mechanisms mediating ghrelin's effects are incompletely understood, including the extent to which its only known receptor, GHSR-1a, is required for these effects. This study characterizes the pathways involved in AT atrophy in the Lewis Lung Carcinoma (LLC)-induced cachexia model and those mediating the effects of ghrelin in Ghsr +/+ and Ghsr -/- mice. We show that LLC causes AT atrophy by inducing anorexia, and increasing lipolysis, AT inflammation, thermogenesis and energy expenditure. These changes were greater in Ghsr -/-. Ghrelin administration prevented LLC-induced anorexia only in Ghsr +/+, but prevented WAT lipolysis, inflammation and atrophy in both genotypes, although its effects were greater in Ghsr +/+. LLC-induced increases in BAT inflammation, WAT and BAT thermogenesis, and energy expenditure were not affected by ghrelin. In conclusion, ghrelin ameliorates WAT inflammation, fat atrophy and anorexia in LLC-induced cachexia. GHSR-1a is required for ghrelin's orexigenic effect but not for its anti-inflammatory or fat-sparing effects.

Keywords: adipose tissue; cachexia; cancer; ghrelin; muscle.