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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Feb;88(2):879-87.

Immunolocalization of ghrelin and its functional receptor, the type 1a growth hormone secretagogue receptor, in the cyclic human ovary.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Physiology, and Immunology, University of Córdoba, 14004 Córdoba, Spain.

Abstract

Ghrelin is a novel 28-amino acid peptide identified as the endogenous ligand for the GH secretagogue receptor (GHS-R). Besides its hallmark central neuroendocrine effects in the control of GH secretion and food intake, an unexpected reproductive facet of ghrelin has recently emerged because expression of this molecule and its cognate receptor has been demonstrated in rat testis. However, whether this signaling system is present in human gonads remains to be evaluated. In this study, we have assessed the presence and cellular location of ghrelin and its functional receptor, namely the type 1a GHS-R, in the cyclic human ovary by means of immunohistochemistry using specific polyclonal antibodies. Strong ghrelin immunostaining was demonstrated in ovarian hilus interstitial cells. In contrast, ghrelin signal was not detected in ovarian follicles at any developmental stage, nor was it present in newly formed corpora lutea (CL) at very early development. However, specific ghrelin immunoreactivity was clearly observed in young and mature CL, whereas expression of the peptide disappeared in regressing luteal tissue. Concerning the cognate receptor, ovarian expression of GHS-R1a protein showed a wider pattern of tissue distribution, with detectable specific signal in oocytes as well as somatic follicular cells; luteal cells from young, mature, old, and regressing CL; and interstitial hilus cells. Of particular note, follicular GHS-R1a peptide expression paralleled follicle development with stronger immunostaining in granulosa and theca layers of healthy antral follicles. In conclusion, our results are the first to demonstrate that ghrelin and its functional type 1a receptor are expressed in the cyclic human ovary with distinct patterns of cellular location. The presence of both components (ligand and receptor) of the ghrelin signaling system within the human ovary opens up the possibility of a potential regulatory role of this novel molecule in ovarian function under physiological and pathophysiological conditions.

PMID:
12574228
DOI:
10.1210/jc.2002-021196
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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