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Antiserum prepared by the immunization of rabbits, with homogenates of rat anterior pituitary gland according to a procedure previously outlined, was absorbed with homologous serum proteins and tissues to remove various non-specific antibodies.

Varying levels of plasma from gonadectomized male rats, containing high levels of gonadotrophic hormone activity, were injected into hypophysectomized, immature female rats. The simultaneous injection of antiserum resulted in complete neutralization of gonadotrophic hormone as judged by the inhibition of ovarian and uterine weight responses and the extent of follicular development in the ovaries of the rats used for the bioassay. The degree of inhibition was dependent upon the relative amount of antiserum employed. Normal rabbit serum did not have any inhibitory effect. No detectable non-specific or toxic effects were noted in the animals injected with antiserum.

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T Hayashida, K Nakahara, MS Mondal, Y Date, M Nakazato, M Kojima, K Kangawa, and N Murakami

Ghrelin, a 28 amino acid peptide, has recently been isolated from the rat stomach as an endogenous ligand for the GH secretagogue receptor. The fact that administration of ghrelin, centrally or peripherally, stimulates both food intake and GH secretion suggests that stomach ghrelin has an important role in the growth of rats. We used immunohistochemistry and radioimmunoassay to determine the age at which ghrelin-immunostained cells begin to appear in the rat stomach. Ghrelin-immunoreactive cells were found to be expressed in the fetal stomach from pregnancy day 18. The number of ghrelin-immunoreactive cells in the fetal stomach increased as the stomach grew. The amount of ghrelin in the glandular part of the rat stomach also increased, in an age-dependent manner, from the neonatal stage to adult. Eight hours of milk restriction significantly decreased the ghrelin concentration in the stomachs of 1-week-old rats, and increased the ghrelin concentration in their plasma. Administration of ghrelin to 1- and 3-week-old rats increased plasma GH concentrations. The daily subcutaneous administration of ghrelin to pregnant rats from day 15 to day 21 of pregnancy caused an increase in body weight of newborn rats. In addition, daily subcutaneous administration of ghrelin to neonatal rats from birth advanced the day of vaginal opening from day 30.7+/-0.94 to day 27.9+/-0.05. These results suggest that ghrelin may be involved in neonatal development.

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N Murakami, T Hayashida, T Kuroiwa, K Nakahara, T Ida, MS Mondal, M Nakazato, M Kojima, and K Kangawa

Ghrelin, a 28-amino-acid peptide, has recently been isolated from the rat stomach as an endogenous ligand for the GH secretagogue receptor. We have reported previously that central or peripheral administration of ghrelin stimulates food intake, and the secretion of GH and gastric acid in rats. In the present study, we investigated how much endogenous centrally released ghrelin is involved in the control of food intake and body weight gain. We also examined the profile of ghrelin secretion from the stomach by RIA using two kinds of anti-ghrelin antiserum, one raised against the N-terminal ([Cys(12)]-ghrelin[1-11]) region and one raised against the C-terminal ([Cys(0)]-ghrelin [13-28]) region of the peptide. The former antibody recognizes specifically ghrelin with n- octanoylated Ser 3 (acyl ghrelin), and does not recognize des-acyl ghrelin. The latter also recognizes des-acyl ghrelin (i.e. total ghrelin). Intracerebroventricular treatment with the anti-ghrelin antiserum against the N-terminal region twice a day for 5 days decreased significantly both daily food intake and body weight. Des-acyl ghrelin levels were significantly higher in the gastric vein than in the trunk. Either fasting for 12 h, administration of gastrin or cholecystokinin resulted in increase of both acyl and des-acyl ghrelin levels. The ghrelin levels exhibited a diurnal pattern, with the bimodal peaks occurring before dark and light periods. These two peaks were consistent with maximum and minimum volumes of gastric content respectively. These results suggest that (1) endogenous centrally released ghrelin participates in the regulation of food intake and body weight, (2) acyl ghrelin is secreted from the stomach, (3) intestinal hormones stimulate ghrelin release from the stomach, and (4) regulation of the diurnal rhythm of ghrelin is complex, since ghrelin secretion is augmented under conditions of both gastric emptying and filling.