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      Ghrelin stimulation by hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis activation depends on increasing cortisol levels

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          Abstract

          Ghrelin plasma concentration increases in parallel to cortisol after a standardized psychological stress in humans, but the physiological basis of this interaction is unknown. We aimed to elucidate this question by studying the ghrelin response to pharmacological manipulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis. Six lean, healthy male volunteers were examined under four experimental conditions. Blood samples were collected every 30 min for two sequential periods of two hours. Initially, a baseline period was followed by intravenous injection of a synthetic analog of ACTH (250 μg). Subsequently, a single dose of metyrapone was administered at midnight and in the following morning, blood samples were collected for 2 h, followed by an intravenous injection of hydrocortisone (100 mg) with continued sampling. We show that increased cortisol serum levels secondary to ACTH stimulation or hydrocortisone administration are positively associated with plasma ghrelin levels, whereas central stimulation of the HPA axis by blocking cortisol synthesis with metyrapone is associated with decreased plasma ghrelin levels. Collectively, this suggests that HPA-axis-mediated elevations in ghrelin plasma concentration require increased peripheral cortisol levels, independent of central elevation of ACTH and possibly CRH levels.

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          Most cited references 42

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          The tissue distribution of the mRNA of ghrelin and subtypes of its receptor, GHS-R, in humans.

          Ghrelin is a novel growth hormone-releasing peptide, originally identified in the rat stomach as the endogenous ligand for the growth hormone secretagogue-receptor (GHS-R1a). Ghrelin is involved in the regulation of GH release, but it has recently been suggested that ghrelin may have other actions, including effects on appetite, carbohydrate metabolism, heart, kidney, pancreas, gonads, and cell proliferation. The distribution of ghrelin, its functional receptor (type 1a) and the unspliced, non-functional GHS-R type 1b mRNA expression was investigated in various human tissues using classical and real-time reverse transcription and polymerase chain reaction. GHS-R1a was predominantly expressed in the pituitary and at much lower levels in the thyroid gland, pancreas, spleen, myocardium and adrenal gland. In contrast, ghrelin was found in the stomach, other parts of the gut and, indeed, in all the tissues studied (adrenal gland, atrium, breast, buccal mucosa, esophagus, Fallopian tube, fat tissue, gall bladder, human lymphocytes, ileum, kidney, left colon, liver, lung, lymph node, muscle, muscle, myocardium, ovary, pancreas, pituitary, placenta, prostate, right colon, skin, spleen, testis, thyroid, and vein). GHS-R1b expression was also widespread in all tissues studied. The significance of the widespread tissue distribution of ghrelin remains to be determined. These data suggest that ghrelin might have widespread physiological effects via different, partly unidentified, subtypes of the GHS-R in endocrine and non-endocrine tissues.
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            Ghrelin stimulates gastric acid secretion and motility in rats.

            Ghrelin, a novel growth-hormone-releasing peptide, was discovered in rat and human stomach tissues. However, its physiological and pharmacological actions in the gastric function remain to be determined. Therefore, we studied the effects of rat ghrelin on gastric functions in urethane-anesthetized rats. Intravenous administrations of rat ghrelin at 0.8 to 20 microgram/kg dose-dependently increased not only gastric acid secretion measured by a lumen-perfused method, but also gastric motility measured by a miniature balloon method. The maximum response in gastric acid secretion was almost equipotent to that of histamine (3 mg/kg, i.v.). Moreover, these actions were abolished by pretreatment with either atropine (1 mg/kg, s.c.) or bilateral cervical vagotomy, but not by a histamine H(2)-receptor antagonist (famotidine, 1 mg/kg, s.c.). These results taken together suggest that ghrelin may play a physiological role in the vagal control of gastric function in rats. Copyright 2000 Academic Press.
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              Ghrelin mediates stress-induced food-reward behavior in mice.

              The popular media and personal anecdotes are rich with examples of stress-induced eating of calorically dense "comfort foods." Such behavioral reactions likely contribute to the increased prevalence of obesity in humans experiencing chronic stress or atypical depression. However, the molecular substrates and neurocircuits controlling the complex behaviors responsible for stress-based eating remain mostly unknown, and few animal models have been described for probing the mechanisms orchestrating this response. Here, we describe a system in which food-reward behavior, assessed using a conditioned place preference (CPP) task, is monitored in mice after exposure to chronic social defeat stress (CSDS), a model of prolonged psychosocial stress, featuring aspects of major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Under this regime, CSDS increased both CPP for and intake of high-fat diet, and stress-induced food-reward behavior was dependent on signaling by the peptide hormone ghrelin. Also, signaling specifically in catecholaminergic neurons mediated not only ghrelin's orexigenic, antidepressant-like, and food-reward behavioral effects, but also was sufficient to mediate stress-induced food-reward behavior. Thus, this mouse model has allowed us to ascribe a role for ghrelin-engaged catecholaminergic neurons in stress-induced eating.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Endocr Connect
                Endocr Connect
                EC
                Endocrine Connections
                Bioscientifica Ltd (Bristol )
                2049-3614
                November 2017
                16 October 2017
                : 6
                : 8
                : 847-855
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Institute of Endocrinology Metabolism and Hypertension, Tel Aviv-Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel
                [2 ]Sackler Faculty of Medicine Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
                Author notes
                Correspondence should be addressed to Y Greenman; Email: yonagr@ 123456tlvmc.gov.il
                Article
                EC170212
                10.1530/EC-17-0212
                5682420
                29038331
                © 2017 The authors
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