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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2013 Jun 15;187:79-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2013.03.013. Epub 2013 Apr 2.

The role of ghrelin in energy balance regulation in fish.

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Fish Endocrinology Laboratory, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Box 463, 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden.


Knowledge about the endocrine regulation of energy balance in fish is of interest for basic as well as aquaculture research. Ghrelin is a peptide hormone that was first identified in fish 10 years ago and has important roles in the control of food intake and metabolism. Both ghrelin and its receptor, the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R), have been found in numerous fish species. Their tissue distributions support the idea that ghrelin has an integrative role in the regulation of energy balance at both the central nervous system level and systemic level. In tilapia and goldfish, ghrelin treatment appears to increase food intake and to stimulate lipogenesis and tissue fat deposition to promote a more positive energy status. In rainbow trout, on the other hand, ghrelin decreases food intake. Goldfish and rainbow trout are the fish species in which the mode of action of ghrelin on food intake has been most thoroughly investigated. The results from these studies indicate that ghrelin alters food intake by acting on well-known appetite signals, such as CRH, NPY and orexin, in the hypothalamus in a species-specific manner. In goldfish, sensory fibres of the vagus nerve convey the signal from gut-derived ghrelin to modulate appetite. The data also indicate that ghrelin may modulate foraging/swimming activity and the perception of food in fish. Results related to the effects of energy status, temperature, and stressors on plasma ghrelin/tissue ghrelin mRNA levels are occasionally inconsistent between short- and long-term studies, between the protein and mRNA, and between species. Recent data also imply a role of ghrelin in carbohydrate metabolism. More functional studies are required to understand the role of ghrelin and its mechanisms of action in the regulation of energy balance among fish.

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