Consummatory behavior and metabolic indicators after central ghrelin injections in rats
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Ghrelin, an endogenous ligand for the growth-hormone-secretagogue receptor, is a 28-amino acid peptide with a post-translational acyl modification necessary for its activity. It has central nervous system actions that affect appetite, body mass and energy balance. An intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection protocol of sub-nanomolar doses of ghrelin, known to alter the morphology of ACTH and GH producing pituicytes and plasma levels of these hormones, was used to provide an overview of metabolic changes linked to energy metabolism. Variables measured were: food intake (FI), water intake (WI), fecal mass, urine volume, body weight (BW), retroperitoneal (RP) and epididymal (EPI) white adipose tissue (WAT), and changes in serum leptin, insulin, triglycerides, cholesterol, and glucose. Five injections of rat ghrelin or PBS (n=8 per group) were given ICV every 24 h (1 mu g/5 mu L PBS) to adult male rats. Ghrelin had a positive and cumulative effect on FI, WI and BW (p<0.05), but not feces mass or urine volume (p>0.05). Centrally applied ghrelin clearly increased RP WAT (by 235%, p<0.001), EPI WAT (by 85%, p<0.05) and serum insulin levels (by 43%, p<0.05), and decreased serum leptin levels (by 77%, p<0.05) without (p>0.05) evoking changes in blood triglyceride cholesterol, or glucose levels. These data and the available literature clearly document that exposure of the brain of normal rats, over time, to sub-nanomolar doses of ghrelin results in metabolic dysregulation culminating in increased body mass, consummatory behavior, and lipid stores as well as changes in blood leptin/insulin levels. Thus, modulation of central ghrelin receptors may represent a pharmacological approach for controlling multiple factors involved in energy balance and obesity. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.