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Endocr J. 2014;61(10):1041-52. Epub 2014 Jul 17.

Reduction in circulating ghrelin concentration after maturation does not affect food intake.

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Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto 606-8507, Japan.


Ghrelin has a potent orexigenic effect and induces adiposity when administered exogenously. Since plasma ghrelin levels rise before meals, ghrelin was thought to play a crucial role in the regulation of appetite. In contrast, mice deficient in the production of ghrelin or the corresponding receptor, GHS-R, do not eat less, throwing the role of ghrelin in the regulation of energy homeostasis into question. Since these mice lack ghrelin or GHS-R from the time of conception, the possibility that compensatory mechanisms may have arisen during development cannot be ruled out. In this study, we used a transgenic mouse model that expresses human diphtheria toxin (DT) receptor cDNA under the control of the ghrelin promoter (GPDTR-Tg mice). As previously reported, an injection of DT into this mouse model ablates ghrelin-secreting cells in the stomach but not in the hypothalamus, resulting in a reduction in circulating ghrelin levels. We used this model system to evaluate the physiological roles of circulating ghrelin in the regulation of food intake. Meal patterns, diurnal and nocturnal meal sizes, and cumulative food intake of DT-treated GPDTR-Tg mice were not affected, although circulating ghrelin levels markedly decreased even after fasting. These mice also displayed normal responses to starvation; however, the use of fat increased and slower weight gain when maintained on a high fat diet was observed. Together, these data suggest that circulating ghrelin does not play a crucial role in feeding behavior, but rather is involved in maintaining body weight.

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