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Zheng Zhao, Ichiro Sakata, Yusuke Okubo, Kanako Koike, Kenji Kangawa, and Takafumi Sakai

Ghrelin, an endogenous ligand for the GH secretagog receptor, is predominantly produced in the stomach. It has been reported that endogenous ghrelin levels are increased by fasting and decreased after refeeding. It has also been reported that estrogen upregulates ghrelin expression and production and that somatostatin inhibits ghrelin secretion, whereas leptin has a paradoxical effect. Recently, several studies have shown that estrogen, somatostatin, and leptin are produced in the stomach, but the direct effects of these gastric hormones on ghrelin expression in a fasting state remain obscure. In this study, we examined the mRNA expression levels of gastric ghrelin, aromatase (estrogen synthetase), leptin and somatostatin, and concentrations of stomach leptin and portal vein 17β-estradiol in fasted male rats. After 48 h of fasting, although gastric ghrelin mRNA level was significantly increased, both gastric leptin mRNA level and leptin content were decreased. Further, refeeding of fasted rats resulted in a decrease in ghrelin expression level and an increase in leptin expression level. On the other hand, gastric estrogen and somatostatin levels did not change after fasting. In vitro studies revealed that leptin dose-dependently inhibited ghrelin expression and also inhibited estrogen-stimulated ghrelin expression. Moreover, ghrelin cells were found to be tightly surrounded by leptin cells. RT-PCR analysis clearly showed that long and short forms of the leptin receptor are expressed in the rat stomach. These results strongly suggest that an elevated gastric ghrelin expression level in a fasting state is regulated by attenuated restraint from decreased gastric leptin level.

Open access

Hiroharu Mifune, Yuji Tajiri, Yusuke Sakai, Yukie Kawahara, Kento Hara, Takahiro Sato, Yoshihiro Nishi, Akinori Nishi, Ryouichi Mitsuzono, Tatsuyuki Kakuma, and Masayasu Kojima

We previously reported that voluntary exercise contributed to the amelioration of abnormal feeding behavior with a concomitant restoration of ghrelin production in a rat model of obesity, suggesting a possible relationship between exercise and appetite-regulating hormones. Ghrelin is known to be involved in the brain reward circuits via dopamine neurons related to motivational properties. We investigated the relevance of ghrelin as an initiator of voluntary exercise as well as feeding behavior. The plasma ghrelin concentration fluctuates throughout the day with its peak at the beginning of the dark period in the wild-type (WT) mice with voluntary exercise. Although predominant increases in wheel running activity were observed accordant to the peak of plasma ghrelin concentration in the WT mice, those were severely attenuated in the ghrelin-knockout (GKO) mice under either ad libitum or time-restricted feeding. A single injection of ghrelin receptor agonist brought about and reproduced a marked enhancement of wheel running activity, in contrast to no effect by the continuous administration of the same drug. Brain dopamine levels (DAs) were enhanced after food consumption in the WT mice under voluntary exercise. Although the acceleration of DAs were apparently blunted in the GKO mice, they were dramatically revived after the administration of ghrelin receptor agonist, suggesting the relevance of ghrelin in the reward circuit under voluntary exercise. These findings emphasize that the surge of ghrelin plays a crucial role in the formation of motivation for the initiation of voluntary exercise possibly related to the central dopamine system.

Free access

Hiroharu Mifune, Yuji Tajiri, Yusuke Sakai, Yukie Kawahara, Kento Hara, Takahiro Sato, Yoshihiro Nishi, Akinori Nishi, Ryouichi Mitsuzono, Tatsuyuki Kakuma, and Masayasu Kojima