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LM Seoane, S Tovar, R Baldelli, E Arvat, E Ghigo, FF Casanueva, and C Dieguez

Ghrelin is a growth hormone-releasing acylated peptide from stomach. The purified peptide consist of 28 amino acids in which the serine 3 residue is n-octanoylated. Ghrelin has been reported to increase in vitro GH secretion as well as in vivo plasma GH levels in pentobarbital anaesthetized rats. The aim of this work was to characterize the stimulatory effect of Ghrelin on in vivo GH secretion in freely-moving rats. Furthermore, we compare the effect of Ghrelin with GHRH. In addition to vehicle, we administered different doses of Ghrelin (3 nmol/Kg, 12 nmol/Kg and 60 nmol/Kg); GHRH (3 nmol/Kg and 12 nmol/kg). Plasma GH levels were measured in blood samples taken at 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 and 45 min after their administration as an i.v. bolus at 0 min. Administration of Ghrelin led to an increase in plasma GH levels at all time-points tested (5, 10, 15, 20 and 30 min, P<0.01; and 45 min, P<0.05) in comparison to control untreated rats. A maximal stimulatory effect on plasma GH was observed following administration of 12 nmol/Kg of Ghrelin, the effect being similar to the one obtained with 60 nmol/Kg in terms of both AUC and mean peak GH levels. At the dose of 3 nmol/Kg GHRH and Ghrelin exhibited a similar stimulatory effect in term of both, AUC and mean peak GH levels. However following administration of a dose of 12 nmol/Kg, the effect of Ghrelin was much greater than the same dose of GHRH in terms of both AUC and mean peak GH levels. In summary, this study provides the first evidences that Ghrelin exert a marked stimulatory effect in plasma GH levels in freely-moving rats and provides further evidences that Ghrelin may play an important role in the physiological control of GH secretion.

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C Menendez, R Baldelli, M Lage, X Casabiell, V Pinero, J Solar, C Dieguez, and FF Casanueva

OBJECTIVE: Leptin is an adipocyte-secreted hormone acting as a signal to the central nervous system, where it regulates energy homeostasis and neuroendocrine processes. Leptin plasma levels are mainly regulated by the percentage of body fat, but are also controlled by several metabolic and nutritional variables. Data regarding leptin secretion suggest that it is gender regulated, and higher levels are present in women than men; however, the biological basis for this sex-related difference is unknown. To clarify those points, a systematic study with tissue cultures from human omental adipose tissue was performed. DESIGN AND METHODS: Surgically obtained samples from 137 patients (68 women, 69 men) were evaluated. The assay was standardized in periods of 24 h ending at 96 h. Each adipose tissue sample from a single donor was incubated in triplicate and leptin results expressed as the mean of the integrated secretion into the medium (nanograms of leptin/g tissue per time). RESULTS: Tissue adipose cultures showed a steady leptin secretion throughout the 96 h studied, with the peak of secretory activity reached at 48 h; afterwards, the in vitro secretion reached a plateau state. Spontaneous leptin secretion in the 24 h and 48 h period, as well as the area under the curve analyzed in the 0-48 h period, showed a gender-based difference that was significantly (P<0. 05) higher in women than in men. When data of spontaneous leptin secretion were correlated with the body mass index (BMI) of the donors, no correlation was found. This suggests that in vivo leptin levels are dependent on the total amount of fat of the individual, but independent of the leptin secretory rate by the adipose tissue of the donor. CONCLUSIONS: Leptin secretion from omental adipose tissue in vitro is: (i) significantly higher in samples from women than in samples from men; and (ii) not correlated with the BMI, showing that in vitro leptin secretion is not related to the adiposity of the donor.

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R Peino, R Baldelli, J Rodriguez-Garcia, S Rodriguez-Segade, M Kojima, K Kangawa, E Arvat, E Ghigo, C Dieguez, and FF Casanueva

Ghrelin is a novel growth hormone (GH) releaser acylated peptide that has recently been purified from stomach, and which potently binds to the GH secretagogue receptor. Ghrelin releases GH in vitro and in vivo in animal models, however its actions, potency and specificity in humans are unknown. In the present study, 12 healthy subjects were studied: 6 underwent four tests with ghrelin administered i.v. at the dose of 0 (placebo), 0.25, 0.5 and 1 microg/kg which corresponds to 0, 18, 37 and 75 microg total dose. A further 6 volunteers underwent two tests on different days with ghrelin at the dose of 3.3 or 6.6 microg/kg which corresponds to 250 microg and 500 microg total dose. Ghrelin-mediated GH secretion showed a dose-response curve, in which 1 microg/kg was the minimally effective dose in some individuals, but not as a group. On the contrary, the total doses of 250 microg and 500 microg elicited a powerful GH secretion, with a mean peak of 69.8+/-9.2 microg/l and 90.9+/-16.9 microg/l respectively, and areas under the curve of 4435+/-608 and 6125+/-1008 microg/l per 120 min respectively. All of them statistically significant vs placebo and vs the 1 microg/kg dose. Ghrelin administration also elicited a relevant dose-response mediated prolactin secretion suggesting no specificity of its actions. No relevant side effects were observed with ghrelin apart from a hyperhydrosis episode in two individuals tested with the higher ghrelin doses. In conclusion, ghrelin is a potent releaser of GH in normal individuals, with a dose-response pattern of operation. No saturating dose was observed.