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J Endocrinol. 2005 Sep;186(3):505-13.

Gastric immunolocalization and plasma profiles of acyl-ghrelin in fasted and fasted-refed prepuberal gilts.

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Department of Veterinary Morphophysiology and Animal Production, University of Bologna, via Tolara di Sopra 50, 40064 Ozzano Emilia (BO), Italy.


Ghrelin is a peripheral circulating hormone, mainly released from the stomach, which can stimulate food intake. We studied fed, fasted and fasted-refed prepuberal gilts in order to outline possible changes in gastric mucosal ghrelin cells and in plasma ghrelin profiles in response to food deprivation. Acyl-ghrelin-immunoreactive cells were numerous in oxyntic glands, less abundant in cardiac glands and least frequent in pyloric glands, with the addition of a minor population of labelled cells in the gastric pit mucosa. When fed and fasted animals were compared (72-h fast versus fed; n = 4 each), no clear-cut differences were revealed in labelled cell numbers, nor in their staining intensity. An RIA for plasma porcine acyl-ghrelin (n-octanoylated at Ser-3), not recognizing des-acyl-ghrelin, was validated. Plasma acyl-ghrelin progressively increased upon fasting (over 6, 12, 24 and 48 h); ghrelin levels significantly (P<0.05) higher than those prefast were reached at 72 h. After refeeding, plasma ghrelin was rapidly restored to basal values by 6 h. In the same animals, plasma insulin was significantly reduced throughout the fasting period (6-72 h), while rapidly increasing after refeeding. Non-esterified fatty acid levels increased during fasting (12-72 h) and rapidly returned to low values after refeeding. In conclusion, the present study demonstrates that starvation and refeeding influence ghrelin plasma level in prepuberal gilts. The absence of detectable changes in ghrelin cells, as seen in immunohistochemistry, could be due to a large intracellular storage of potentially releasable acylghrelin.

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