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Neurosci Lett. 2002 Mar 22;321(3):157-60.

Immunocytochemical observation of ghrelin-containing neurons in the rat arcuate nucleus.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, Showa University School of Medicine, 1-5-8 Hatanodai, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, Japan.


Ghrelin is a novel peptide that stimulates the release of growth hormone from the pituitary and is involved in hypothalamic feeding regulation. A pre-embedding immunostaining technique was used to study the ultrastructure and synaptic relationships of ghrelin-containing neurons in the rat arcuate nucleus (ARC). Ghrelin-like immunoreactive (ghrelin-LI) neurons were found in the ARC, and were especially abundant in its ventral part. At the electron microscopic level, ghrelin-LI neurons received afferent synapses from many unknown axon terminals. Ghrelin-LI products in the immunoreactive cell bodies, processes, and axon terminals were detected mainly in dense granular vesicles about 110 nm in diameter. Ghrelin-LI presynaptic axon terminals often made synapses with unknown immunonegative neurons. These results suggest that ghrelin acts to regulate food intake through synaptic connections in hypothalamic neuronal networks.

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