Molecular Mechanisms and Health Benefits of Ghrelin: A Narrative Review

Nutrients. 2022 Oct 8;14(19):4191. doi: 10.3390/nu14194191.


Ghrelin, an endogenous brain-gut peptide, is secreted in large quantities, mainly from the stomach, in humans and rodents. It can perform the biological function of activating the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR). Since its discovery in 1999, ample research has focused on promoting its effects on the human appetite and pleasure-reward eating. Extensive, in-depth studies have shown that ghrelin is widely secreted and distributed in tissues. Its role in neurohumoral regulation, such as metabolic homeostasis, inflammation, cardiovascular regulation, anxiety and depression, and advanced cancer cachexia, has attracted increasing attention. However, the effects and regulatory mechanisms of ghrelin on obesity, gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation, cardiovascular disease, stress regulation, cachexia treatment, and the prognosis of advanced cancer have not been fully summarized. This review summarizes ghrelin's numerous effects in participating in a variety of biochemical pathways and the clinical significance of ghrelin in the regulation of the homeostasis of organisms. In addition, potential mechanisms are also introduced.

Keywords: ghrelin; growth hormone secretagogue receptor; homeostasis; neurohumoral regulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cachexia / metabolism
  • Ghrelin* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Receptors, Ghrelin / metabolism


  • Ghrelin
  • Receptors, Ghrelin