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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2012 Mar;340(3):781-6. doi: 10.1124/jpet.111.185371. Epub 2011 Dec 19.

Characterization of new stable ghrelin analogs with prolonged orexigenic potency.

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Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Flemingovo nam. 2, 166 10 Prague 6, Czech Republic.


Ghrelin, the only known peripherally produced and centrally acting peptide that stimulates food intake, is synthesized primarily in the stomach and acts through the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R1a). In addition to its orexigenic effect, ghrelin stimulates the release of growth hormone (GH). In this study, we investigated the biological properties of full-length and shortened ghrelin analogs in which octanoylated Ser(3) is replaced with an octanoic acid moiety coupled to diaminopropionic acid (Dpr). Ghrelin analogs stabilized with Dpr(N-octanoyl) in position 3 and noncoded amino acids in position 1 (sarcosine) and/or position 4 (naphthylalanine or cyclohexylalanine) were found to possess affinities similar to those of ghrelin for cell membranes with transfected GHS-R1a. In vivo, the prolonged orexigenic effects of analogs containing Dpr(N-octanoyl)(3) compared with that of ghrelin in adult mice and a similar impact on GH secretion in young mice were found. Full-length [Dpr(N-octanoyl)(3)]ghrelin and its analogs with a noncoded amino acid in position 1 and/or 4 showed significantly prolonged stability in blood plasma compared with that of ghrelin. Ghrelin analogs with a prolonged orexigenic effect are potential treatments for GH deficiency or cachexia that accompanies chronic diseases. Desoctanoylated ghrelin analogs and N-terminal penta- and octapeptides of ghrelin did not show any biological activity.

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