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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51135. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051135. Epub 2012 Dec 10.

A natural variant of obestatin, Q90L, inhibits ghrelin's action on food intake and GH secretion and targets NPY and GHRH neurons in mice.

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  • 1UMR-S 894 INSERM, Centre de Psychiatrie et Neurosciences, Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, France.



Ghrelin and obestatin are two gut-derived peptides originating from the same ghrelin/obestatin prepropeptide gene (GHRL). While ghrelin stimulates growth hormone (GH) secretion and food intake and inhibits γ-aminobutyric-acid synaptic transmission onto GHRH (Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone) neurons, obestatin blocks these effects. In Humans, GHRL gene polymorphisms have been associated with pathologies linked to an unbalanced energy homeostasis. We hypothesized that one polymorphism located in the obestatin sequence (Q to L substitution in position 90 of the ghrelin/obestatin prepropeptide, rs4684677) may impact on the function of obestatin. In the present study, we tested the activity of native and Q90L obestatin to modulate ghrelin-induced food intake, GH secretion, cFos activity in GHRH and Neuropeptide Y (NPY) neurons and γ-aminobutyric-acid activity onto GHRH neurons.


Food intake, GH secretion and electrophysiological recordings were assessed in C57BL/6 mice. cFos activity was measured in NPY-Renilla-GFP and GHRH-eGFP mice. Mice received saline, ghrelin or ghrelin combined to native or Q90L obestatin (30 nmol each) in the early light phase. Ghrelin stimulation of food intake and GH secretion varied considerably among individual mice with 59-77% eliciting a robust response. In these high-responders, ghrelin-induced food intake and GH secretion were reduced equally by native and Q90L obestatin. In contrast to in vivo observations, Q90L was slightly more efficient than native obestatin in inhibiting ghrelin-induced cFos activation within the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus and the nucleus tractus solitarius of the brainstem. After ghrelin injection, 26% of NPY neurons in the arcuate nucleus expressed cFos protein and this number was significantly reduced by co-administration of Q90L obestatin. Q90L was also more potent that native obestatin in reducing ghrelin-induced inhibition of γ-aminobutyric-acid synaptic transmission onto GHRH neurons.


These data support the hypothesis that Q90L obestatin partially blocks ghrelin-induced food intake and GH secretion by acting through NPY and GHRH neurons.

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