Send to

Choose Destination
Endocrine. 2003 Oct;22(1):5-12.

Regulation of ghrelin secretion and action.

Author information

Department of Medicine, Research Area, Molecular Endocrinology Laboratory, School of Medicine and Complejo Hospitalario Universitario de Santiago, University of Santiago de Compostela, E-15780 Santiago de Compostela, Spain.


The pulsatile release of growth hormone (GH) from anterior pituitary gland is regulated by the interplay of at least two hypothalamic hormones, GH-releasing hormone (GHRH) and somatostatin, via their engagement with specific cell surface receptors on the anterior pituitary somatotroph. Furthermore, release of GH in vivo may also be controlled by a third type of receptor, the growth hormone secretagogue receptor, a G-protein-coupled receptor, called GHS receptor type 1a (GHSR1a), which was identified in the pituitary and the hypothalamus in humans using a nonpeptidyl growth hormone secretagogue (MK-0677). Ghrelin, the endogenous ligand for the GHS-R1a, is a 28-amino-acid peptide isolated from human stomach that is modified by a straight chain octanoyl group covalently linked to Ser3, which is essential for its endocrine activity. This hormone, predominantly expressed and secreted by the stomach, has a dual action on GH secretion and food intake, showing interdependency between these actions. The finding that fasting and food intake, respectively, increase and decrease the secretion of ghrelin suggests that this hormone may be the bridge connecting somatic growth and body composition with energy metabolism, and appears to play a role in the alteration of energy homeostasis and body weight in pathophysiological states such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Despite this, little is known about the intracellular signaling through which ghrelin exerts its regulatory actions. Activation of intracellular calcium mobilization is one of the earliest known cellular signals elicited by ghrelin. In HEK- 293 cells expressing the GHS-R1a, ghrelin induces a biphasic cytosolic calcium elevation characterized by a spike phase of the response, which reflects Ins(1,4,5)P3- dependent calcium mobilization of intracellular stores, and a sustained phase of the response, which is due to calcium influx across the plasma membrane triggered by aperture of capacitative calcium channels (store-operated calcium channels). Upon repeated administration, ghrelin showed a marked suppression of ghrelin-mediated elevations of intracellular calcium. This homologous desensitization represents an important physiological mechanism that modulates receptor responsiveness and acts as an information filter for intracellular signaling system. The discovery of ghrelin adds a new component to the complex machinery responsible for regulation of GH secretion in connection with the regulation of appetite and energy homeostasis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center