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Hormones (Athens). 2016 Feb;15(2):186-196. doi: 10.14310/horm.2002.1672.

Effects of ghrelin in energy balance and body weight homeostasis.

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Department of Internal Medicine, "Grigore T. Popa" University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Iassy, Romania.
Department of Internal Medicine, "Grigore T. Popa" University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Iassy, Romania.
Department of Surgery, "Grigore T. Popa" University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Iossy, Romania.


Ghrelin is a gut peptide composed of 28 amino acids mostly secreted in the gastric fundus mucosa. It was isolated and described in 1999 by Kojima et al. and only three years later its specific receptor, GHSR1a, was also identified. Ghrelin, the endogenous ligand for the GH secretagogue receptor, is the only peripheral orexigenic hormone that activates the receptors to be found especially in the appetite center (hypothalamus and pituitary gland). Ghrelin is present in human plasma in two forms: an inactive form known as deacylated ghrelin, and an active form called acylated ghrelin synthesized under the action of ghrelin O-acyltransferase enzyme (GOAT). The literature even mentions an extremely complex ghrelin/GOAT/GHSR system involved in the regulation of human energy, metabolism and adaptation of energy homeostasis to environmental changes. In humans, there is a preprandial rise and a postprandial fall in plasma ghrelin levels, which strongly suggest that the peptide plays a physiological role in meal initiation and may be employed in determining the amount and quality of ingested food. Besides the stimulation of food intake, ghrelin determines a decrease in energy expenditure and promotes the storage of fatty acids in adipocytes. Thus, in the human body ghrelin induces a positive energy balance, an increased adiposity gain, as well as an increase in caloric storage, seen as an adaptive mechanism to caloric restriction conditions. In the current world context, when we are witnessing an increasing availability of food and a reduction of energy expenditure to a minimum level, these mechanisms have become pathogenic. As a consequence, the hypothesis that ghrelin is involved in the current obesity epidemic has been embraced by many scholars and researchers.

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