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Mol Med. 2012 Mar 27;18:186-93. doi: 10.2119/molmed.2011.00390.

Ghrelin attenuates brain injury after traumatic brain injury and uncontrolled hemorrhagic shock in rats.

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  • 1The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, New York, United States of America.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and hemorrhagic shock often occur concomitantly due to multiple injuries. Gastrointestinal dysfunction occurs frequently in patients with TBI. However, whether alterations in the gastrointestinal system are involved in modulating neuronal damage and recovery after TBI is largely neglected. Ghrelin is a "gut-brain" hormone with multiple functions including antiinflammation and antiapoptosis. The purpose of this study was to determine whether ghrelin attenuates brain injury in a rat model of TBI and uncontrolled hemorrhage (UH). To study this, brain injury was induced by dropping a 450-g weight from 1.5 m onto a steel helmet attached to the skull of male adult rats. Immediately after TBI, a midline laparotomy was performed and both lumbar veins were isolated and severed at the junction with the vena cava. At 45 min after TBI/UH, ghrelin (4, 8 or 16 nmol/rat) or 1 mL normal saline (vehicle) was intravenously administered. Brain levels of TNF-α and IL-6, and cleaved PARP-1 levels in the cortex were measured at 4 h after TBI/UH. Beam balance test, forelimb placing test and hindlimb placing test were used to assess sensorimotor and reflex function. In additional groups of animals, ghrelin (16 nmol/rat) or vehicle was subcutaneously (s.c.) administered daily for 10 d after TBI/UH. The animals were monitored for 28 d to record body weight changes, neurological severity scale and survival. Our results showed that ghrelin downregulated brain levels of TNF-α and IL-6, reduced cortical levels of cleaved PARP-1, improved sensorimotor and reflex functions, and decreased mortality after TBI/UH. Thus, ghrelin has a great potential to be further developed as an effective resuscitation approach for the trauma victims with brain injury and severe blood loss.

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