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Diabetes. 2003 Sep;52(9):2260-5.

Hyperphagic effects of brainstem ghrelin administration.

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Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


The role of ghrelin in feeding control has been addressed from a largely hypothalamic perspective, with little attention directed at ingestive consequences of stimulation of the peptide's receptor, the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R), in the caudal brainstem. Here, we demonstrate a hyperphagic response to stimulation of GHS-R in the caudal brainstem. Ghrelin (150 pmol) delivered to the third and fourth ventricles significantly and comparably increased cumulative food intake, with maximal response approximately 3 h after injection. The meal patterning effects underlying this hyperphagia were also similar for the two placements (i.e., significant reduction in the time between injection and first-meal onset, an increase in the number of meals taken shortly after the injection, and a trend toward an increase in the average size of the first meals that approached but did not achieve statistical significance). In a separate experiment, ghrelin microinjected unilaterally into the dorsal vagal complex (DVC) significantly increased food intake measured 1.5 and 3 h after treatment. The response was obtained with a 10-pmol dose, establishing the DVC as a site of action with at least comparable sensitivity to that reported for the arcuate nucleus. Taken together, the results affirm a caudal brainstem site of action and recommend further investigation into multisite interactions underlying the modulation of ingestive behavior by ghrelin.

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