Immunomodulatory actions of central ghrelin in diet-induced energy imbalance

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We investigated the effects of centrally administered orexigenic hormone ghrelin on energy imbalance-induced inflammation. Rats were subjected for four weeks to three different dietary regimes: normal (standard food), high-fat (standard food with 30% lard) or food-restricted (70%, 50%, 40% and 40% of the expected food intake in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th week, respectively). Compared to normal-weight controls, starved, but not obese rats had significantly higher levels of proinflammatory cytokines (TNF, IL-1β, IFN-γ) in the blood. When compared to normally fed animals, the hearts of starved and obese animals expressed higher levels of mRNAs encoding proinflammatory mediators (TNF, IL-1β, IL-6, IFN-γ, IL-17, IL-12, iNOS), while mRNA levels of the anti-inflammatory TGF-β remained unchanged. Intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection of ghrelin (1 μg/day) for five consecutive days significantly reduced TNF, IL-1β and IFN-γ levels in the blood of starved rats, as well as TNF, IL-17 and IL-12p40 mRNA expression in the hearts of obese rats. Conversely, ICV ghrelin increased the levels of IFN-γ, IL-17, IL-12p35 and IL-12p40 mRNA in the heart tissue of food-restricted animals. This was associated with an increase of immunosuppressive ACTH/corticosterone production in starved animals and a decrease of the immunostimulatory adipokine leptin both in food-restricted and high-fat groups. Ghrelin activated the energy sensor AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in the hypothalamus and inhibited extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in the hearts of obese, but not starved rats. Therefore, central ghrelin may play a complex role in energy imbalance-induced inflammation by modulating HPA axis, leptin and AMPK/ERK signaling pathways. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.




Stevanovic, D., Starcevic, V., Vilimanovich, U., Nesic, D., Vucicevic, L., Misirkic, M., … Trajkovic, V. (2012). Immunomodulatory actions of central ghrelin in diet-induced energy imbalance. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 26(1), 150–158.

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