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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 5;8(6):e64183. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064183. Print 2013.

The expression of GHS-R in primary neurons is dependent upon maturation stage and regional localization.

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  • 1Department of Medical Biotechnologies and Translational Medicine, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.


Ghrelin is a hormone with a crucial role in the regulation of appetite, regulation of inflammation, glucose metabolism and cell proliferation. In the brain ghrelin neurons are located in the cortex (sensorimotor area, cingular gyrus), and the fibres of ghrelin neurons in hypothalamus project directly to the dorsal vagal complex (DVC). Ghrelin binds the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R) a G-protein-coupled receptor with a widespread tissue distribution, indeed these receptors are localized both in nonnervous, organs/tissues (i.e. adipose tissue, myocardium, adrenals, gonads, lung, liver, arteries, stomach, pancreas, thyroid, and kidney) as well as in central nervous system (CNS) and higher levels of expression in the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus and lower levels of expression in other organs, including brain. A GHS-R specific monoclonal antibody has been developed and characterized and through it we demonstrate that GHS-R is expressed in primary neurons and that its expression is dependent upon their developmental stage and shows differences according to the brain region involved, with a more pronounced expression in hippocampal rather than cortical neurons. A characterization of GHS-R within the central nervous system is of extreme importance in order to gain insights on its role in the modulation of neurodegenerative events such as Alzheimer's disease.

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