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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Jan;288(1):E228-35. Epub 2004 Aug 24.

Ghrelin regulates mitochondrial-lipid metabolism gene expression and tissue fat distribution in liver and skeletal muscle.

Author information

  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze Cliniche, Clinica Medica, Morfologiche e Technologiche, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy. barazzon@units.it

Erratum in

  • Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Aug;291(2):E428. Dosage error in published abstract; MEDLINE/PubMed abstract corrected; Dosage error in article text.


Ghrelin is a gastric hormone increased during caloric restriction and fat depletion. A role of ghrelin in the regulation of lipid and energy metabolism is suggested by fat gain independent of changes in food intake during exogenous ghrelin administration in rodents. We investigated the potential effects of peripheral ghrelin administration (two times daily 200-micrograms [DOSAGE ERROR CORRECTED] sc injection for 4 days) on triglyceride content and mitochondrial and lipid metabolism gene expression in rat liver and muscles. Compared with vehicle, ghrelin increased body weight but not food intake and circulating insulin. In liver, ghrelin induced a lipogenic and glucogenic pattern of gene expression and increased triglyceride content while reducing activated (phosphorylated) stimulator of fatty acid oxidation, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK, all P < 0.05), with unchanged mitochondrial oxidative enzyme activities. In contrast, triglyceride content was reduced (P < 0.05) after ghrelin administration in mixed (gastrocnemius) and unchanged in oxidative (soleus) muscle. In mixed muscle, ghrelin increased (P < 0.05) mitochondrial oxidative enzyme activities independent of changes in expression of fat metabolism genes and phosphorylated AMPK. Expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma, the activation of which reduces muscle fat content, was selectively increased in mixed muscle where it paralleled changes in oxidative capacities (P < 0.05). Thus ghrelin induces tissue-specific changes in mitochondrial and lipid metabolism gene expression and favors triglyceride deposition in liver over skeletal muscle. These novel effects of ghrelin in the regulation of lean tissue fat distribution and metabolism could contribute to metabolic adaptation to caloric restriction and loss of body fat.

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