Effects of growth hormone-releasing hormone gene targeted ablation on ghrelin-induced feeding

Lucia Recinella, Sheila Leone, Claudio Ferrante, Annalisa Chiavaroli, Rugia Shohreh, Chiara Di Nisio, Michele Vacca, Giustino Orlando, Roberto Salvatori, Luigi Brunetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Impairment of growth hormone (GH) signaling has been associated with increased feeding and adiposity. The gastric hormone ghrelin, in addition to its GH-secretagogue effects, stimulates food intake after both central and peripheral administration. In the present study we further investigated the feeding regulatory role of the ghrelin-GH axis in a mouse model of isolated GH deficiency due to targeted ablation of the GH-releasing hormone (GHRH) gene [GHRH knockout (GHRHKO)]. We evaluated the effects of intracerebroventricular ghrelin administration on feeding behavior, related hypothalamic neuropeptides and neurotransmitters, and serum ghrelin levels in mice homozygous for GHRHKO allele (−/−) and heterozygous (+/−) control animals. Vehicle-treated GHRHKO mice showed increased food intake compared to heterozygotes, associated with increased circulating ghrelin levels. Moreover, −/− mice showed elevated hypothalamic levels of neuropeptide Y (NPY), agouti-related peptide (AgRP) mRNAs and norepinephrine (NE) and decreased corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) mRNA levels. Ghrelin treatment significantly augmented food intake in both genotypes, but the relative increase compared to vehicle-treated animals was higher in −/− than +/− mice. In the hypothalamus, ghrelin increased AgRP and decreased CRH gene expression only in heterozygous mice, while it induced a significant reduction in proopiomelanocortin (POMC) mRNA levels in −/− mice. Ghrelin treatment also decreased hypothalamic serotonin (5-hydroxytriptamine, 5-HT) and dopamine (DA) levels in both genotypes. Additionally, we observed increased DA metabolism induced by ghrelin in both genotypes. In conclusion, dysregulation of the ghrelin-GHRH-GH axis in GHRHKO mice could lead to increased feeding secondary to elevated circulating levels of ghrelin, and the obesogenic phenotype is likely mediated by elevated NPY and AgRP, and decreased CRH gene expression in the hypothalamus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-46
Number of pages7
JournalGrowth Hormone and IGF Research
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • AgRP
  • CRH
  • Feeding
  • Ghrelin
  • Growth hormone-releasing hormone knockout
  • NPY

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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