Study Title:

Ghrelin is Intimately Involved in Digestive Tract Repair

Study Abstract

BACKGROUND: Gut ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury is a serious condition in intensive care patients. Activation of immune cells adjacent to the huge endothelial cell surface area of the intestinal microvasculature produces initially local and then systemic inflammatory responses. Stimulation of the vagus nerve can rapidly attenuate systemic inflammatory responses through inhibiting the activation of macrophages and endothelial cells. Ghrelin, a novel orexigenic hormone, is produced predominately in the gastrointestinal system. Ghrelin receptors are expressed at a high density in the dorsal vagal complex of the brain stem. In this study, we investigated the regulation of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway by the novel gastrointestinal hormone, ghrelin, after gut I/R. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Gut ischemia was induced by placing a microvascular clip across the superior mesenteric artery for 90 min in male adult rats. Our results showed that ghrelin levels were significantly reduced after gut I/R and that ghrelin administration inhibited pro-inflammatory cytokine release, reduced neutrophil infiltration, ameliorated intestinal barrier dysfunction, attenuated organ injury, and improved survival after gut I/R. Administration of a specific ghrelin receptor antagonist worsened gut I/R-induced organ injury and mortality. To determine whether ghrelin's beneficial effects after gut I/R require the intact vagus nerve, vagotomy was performed in sham and gut I/R animals immediately prior to the induction of gut ischemia. Our result showed that vagotomy completely eliminated ghrelin's beneficial effect after gut I/R. To further confirm that ghrelin's beneficial effects after gut I/R are mediated through the central nervous system, intracerebroventricular administration of ghrelin was performed at the beginning of reperfusion after 90-min gut ischemia. Our result showed that intracerebroventricular injection of ghrelin also protected the rats from gut I/R injury. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that ghrelin attenuates excessive inflammation and reduces organ injury after gut I/R through activation of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway.

Study Information

Wu R, Dong W, Ji Y, Zhou M, Marini CP, Ravikumar TS, Wang P.
Orexigenic hormone ghrelin attenuates local and remote organ injury after intestinal ischemia-reperfusion.
2008 April
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, New York, United States of America.

Full Study