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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2006 Sep 26;257-258:15-25. Epub 2006 Aug 7.

Novel expression and functional role of ghrelin in chicken ovary.

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Department of Animal Genetics & Reproduction, Research Institute of Animal Production, Hlohovsk√° 2, 949 92 Nitra, Slovakia.


Ghrelin has recently emerged as pleiotropic regulator of a wide array of endocrine and non-endocrine functions. The former likely includes the control of gonadal function, as expression of ghrelin and its putative receptor, the GH secretagogue receptor type 1a (GHS-R1a), has been described in mammalian gonads, and direct effects of ghrelin in the control of testicular secretion and cell proliferation have been reported. Yet, the expression and/or functional role of ghrelin in gonads from non-mammalian species remain to be analyzed. The present study aimed to evaluate the expression of ghrelin and GHS-R genes in the chicken ovary, and to assess the potential involvement of ghrelin in the direct control of chick ovarian function. To this end, RT-PCR assays for ghrelin and GHS-R1a mRNAs were performed in ovarian tissue, and cultures of chicken ovarian cells were conducted in the presence of increasing doses (1, 10 or 100 ng/ml) of the ghrelin analog, ghrelin 1-18. Our results demonstrate that both ghrelin and GHS-R1a mRNAs are expressed in chick ovarian tissue. Moreover, challenge of ovarian granulosa cells with ghrelin 1-18 was able to induce markers of proliferation (i.e. expression of both PCNA and cyclin), and to modulate markers of apoptosis (i.e. decreased expression of caspase-3, bax, bcl-2 and TUNEL-positive cells). Moreover, ghrelin 1-18 increased the expression of PCNA, cyclin, bax and p53 in cultures of ovarian follicular fragments, where it also stimulated the release of progesterone, estradiol, arginine-vasotocin (AVT) and IGF-I, but not of testosterone. In conclusion, our study provides novel evidence for the gonadal expression of the genes encoding ghrelin and its cognate receptor in a non-mammalian species, i.e. the chicken ovary, and unravels the potential involvement of this newly discovered molecule in the control of key gonadal functions in the chick, such as proliferation, apoptosis, and hormone release.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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