Ghrelin is a peptide predominantly produced by the stomach. Ghrelin displays strong GH-releasing activity. This activity is mediated by the activation of the so-called GH secretagogue receptor type 1a. This receptor had been shown to be specific for a family of synthetic, peptidyl and nonpeptidyl GH secretagogues. Apart from a potent GH-releasing action, ghrelin has other activities including stimulation of lactotroph and corticotroph function, influence on the pituitary gonadal axis, stimulation of appetite, control of energy balance, influence on sleep and behavior, control of gastric motility and acid secretion, and influence on pancreatic exocrine and endocrine function as well as on glucose metabolism. Cardiovascular actions and modulation of proliferation of neoplastic cells, as well as of the immune system, are other actions of ghrelin. Therefore, we consider ghrelin a gastrointestinal peptide contributing to the regulation of diverse functions of the gut-brain axis. So, there is indeed a possibility that ghrelin analogs, acting as either agonists or antagonists, might have clinical impact.
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