Ghrelin is a gut-brain peptide synthesized mainly in the oxyntic mucosal cells of the stomach, and has potent growth hormone (GH)-releasing and orexigenic activities. Recently, two forms of ghrelin, ghrelin-C8 and -C10, were identified in the Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus). The present study describes in vitro and in vivo effects of these endogenous ghrelins on the GH/insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) axis. Ghrelin-C8 (100 nM) stimulated GH release from primary cultures of pituitary cells after 4 and 8 h of incubation, whereas no effect was seen on prolactin (PRL) release. Stimulatory effects of ghrelin-C8 and -C10 (100 nM) on GH release during 6 h of incubation were blocked by pre-incubation with GHS receptor antagonist, [D-Lys3]-GHRP-6 (10 μM). Intraperitoneal injection of ghrelin-C8 (1 ng/g body weight) and -C10 (0.1 and 1 ng/g body weight) significantly increased plasma GH levels after 5 h. Significant increases were observed also in hepatic expression of IGF-I and GH receptor (GHR) mRNA following injections of both forms of ghrelin (0.1 and 1 ng/g body weight), although there was no effect on plasma levels of IGF-I. In the next experiment, both forms of ghrelin (1 ng/g body weight) significantly increased plasma IGF-I levels 10 h after the injection. No significant effect of either ghrelin was observed on plasma PRL levels. Both forms of GHS receptor (GHSR-1a and -1b) were found in the pituitary, clearly indicating that tilapia ghrelins stimulate primarily GH release through the GHS receptor. Stimulation of hepatic expression of IGF-I and GHR suggests metabolic roles of ghrelin in tilapia.
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