Ghrelin is an endogenous ligand of the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R), which has been originally isolated from rat stomach. Evidence has been previously provided that adrenal gland possesses abundant ghrelin-displaceable GHS-Rs, but nothing is known about the possible role of ghrelin in the regulation of adrenocortical function. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction demonstrated the expression of ghrelin and GHS-R in the rat adrenal cortex, and high adrenal concentrations of immunoreactive ghrelin were detected by radioimmune assay (RIA). Autoradiography localized abundant [125I]ghrelin binding sites in the adrenal zona glomerulosa (ZG) and outer zona fasciculata (ZF). Ghrelin (from 10-10 to 10-8 M) did not affect either basal steroid hormone (pregnenolone, progesterone, 11-deoxycorticosterone, corticosterone, 18-hydroxycorticosterone and aldosterone) secretion from dispersed ZG and zona fasciculata/reticularis (ZF/R) cells (as evaluated by quantitative high pressure liquid chromatography), or basal and agonist-stimulated aldosterone and corticosterone production from cultured ZG and ZF/R cells, respectively (as measured by RIA). Ghrelin (10-8 and 10-6 M) raised basal, but not agonist-stimulated, proliferation rate of cultured ZG cells (percent of cells able to incorporate 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine), without affecting apoptotic deletion rate (percent of cells able to incorporate biotinylated nucleosides into apoptotic DNA fragments). The tyrosine kinase (TK) inhibitor tyrphostin-23 and the p42/p44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitor PD-98059 abolished the proliferogenic effect of 10-8 M ghrelin, while the protein kinase A and C inhibitors H-89 and calphostin-C were ineffective. Ghrelin (10-8 M) stimulated TK and MAPK activity of dispersed ZG cells, and the effect was abolished by preincubation with tyrphostin-23 and PD-98059, respectively. Tyrphostin-23 annulled ghrelin-induced activation of MAPK activity. Taken together, the present findings indicate that (i) ghrelin and GHS-R are both expressed in the rat adrenal cortex, ghrelin binding sites being very abundant in the ZG; (ii) ghrelin does not affect the secretory activity of rat adrenocortical cells, but significantly enhances the proliferation rate of cultured ZG cells, without affecting apoptotic deletion rate; and (iii) the ZG proliferogenic action of ghrelin involves the TK-dependent activation of the p42/p44 MAPK cascade. © 2003 Published by Elsevier Science B.V. on behalf of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies.
Andreis, P. G., Malendowicz, L. K., Trejter, M., Neri, G., Spinazzi, R., Rossi, G. P., & Nussdorfer, G. G. (2003). Ghrelin and growth hormone secretagogue receptor are expressed in the rat adrenal cortex: Evidence that ghrelin stimulates the growth, but not the secretory activity of adrenal cells. FEBS Letters, 536(1–3), 173–179. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0014-5793(03)00051-6