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Lei Huang, Bin Qiu, Lin Yuan, Lili Zheng, Qiang Li and Shigong Zhu

The dorsal vagal complex (DVC) is an important site in which ghrelin plays an orexigenic role. However, the relationship between ghrelin expression in DVC and the energy status of the organism is unclear, as well as the role of the vagus nerve in this process. In this study, ghrelin expression in DVC neurons of rats was detected, then levels of ghrelin expression were observed under the conditions of regular diet, fasting, high blood glucose, low blood glucose, and following subdiaphragmatic vagotomy and vagus nerve electrostimulation. The results showed the following: 1) there was positive staining of ghrelin neurons in DVC; 2) ghrelin protein and mRNA levels in DVC increased under fasting condition; 3) Hyperglycemia, induced by glucose production, decreased DVC ghrelin levels and levels did not increase under hypoglycemia induced by insulin injection; 4) the dorsal trunk of the subdiaphragmatic vagus transmits a stimulatory signal to increase DVC ghrelin levels, whereas the ventral trunk transmits inhibitory information; and 5) DVC ghrelin levels decreased with 20 Hz stimulation on the ventral or dorsal trunk of subdiaphragmatic vagus nerves but increased with 1 Hz stimulation on the dorsal trunk. These results indicate that endogenous ghrelin is synthesized in DVC neurons. Conditions such as fasting, hyperglycemia, and hypoglycemia result in changes in DVC ghrelin levels in which the dorsal and ventral trunks of subdiaphragmatic vagus play different modulation roles.

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Zhengxiang Huang, Lili Huang, Chengjian Wang, Shanli Zhu, Xinzhou Qi, Yang Chen, Yanjun Zhang, Michael Cowley, Johannes D Veldhuis and Chen Chen

The well-documented hormonal disturbance in a general obese population is characterised by an increase in insulin secretion and a decrease in growth hormone (GH) secretion. Such hormonal disturbance promotes an increase in fat mass, which deteriorates obesity and accelerates the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. While the pathological consequence is alarming, the pharmaceutical approach attempting to correct such hormonal disturbance remains limited. By applying an emerging anti-diabetic drug, the sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitor, dapagliflozin (1mg/kg/day for 10 weeks), to a hyperphagic obese mouse model, we observed a significant improvement in insulin and GH secretion as early as 4 weeks after the initiation of the treatment. Restoration of pathological disturbance of insulin and GH secretion reduced fat accumulation and preserved lean body mass in the obese animal model. Such phenotypic improvement followed with concurrent improvements in glucose and lipid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, as well as the expression of metabolic genes that were regulated by insulin and GH. In conclusion, 10 weeks of treatment with dapagliflozin effectively reduces hyperinsulinemia and restores pulsatile GH secretion in the hyperphagic obese mice with considerable improvement in lipid and glucose metabolism. Promising outcomes from this study may provide insights into drug intervention to correct hormonal disturbance in obesity to delay the diabetes progression.