Ghrelin is a 28 amino acid peptide hormone that is mainly produced by the stomach, but also by several tissues and tumors. Ghrelin is octanoylated on the Ser3, but is also detected as a des-acylated form. Only the acylated ghrelin activates the GH secretagogue receptor (GHS-R) type 1a to stimulate GH release, and regulate food intake and energy metabolism. For the first time, we report that ghrelin and des-acyl ghrelin are present in human promyelocytic HL-60, monocytic THP-1 and lymphoblastic SupT1 cell lines. The human leukemic cell lines did not express the functional GHS-R 1a, whereas they expressed GHS-R 1b, a truncated variant of the receptor. Leukemic cell proliferation was not modified by the addition of octanoylated or des-acyl ghrelins. However, THP-1 and HL-60 cell proliferations were inhibited by SB801, an antibody directed against the N-terminal octanoylated portion of ghrelin, suggesting that octanoylated ghrelin stimulates cell proliferation via an autocrine pathway involving an as yet unidentified ghrelin receptor. Both octanoylated and des-acyl ghrelins did not alter the basal adenylate cyclase activity. Treatments of THP-1 and SupT1 cells by both octanoylated and des-acyl ghrelins did not modify the adenylate cyclase activity in response to vasoactive intestinal peptide, suggesting that ghrelin is unlikely to modulate the anti-inflammatory and differentiating properties of vasoactive intestinal peptide.