Ghrelin, macronutrient intake and dietary preferences in long-evans rats.Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Apr 12; 292(4):1031-5.BB
Ghrelin is a recently discovered peptide that is primarily produced by the stomach. As a ligand of the growth hormone (GH) secretagogue (GHS) receptor, it stimulates GH secretion but it also stimulates feeding and has adipogenic effects in rodents. Although its circulating levels are modulated by fasting and refeeding, its relationship with diet composition is not known. In the present paper, we measured plasma ghrelin as well as two important hormones (leptin and insulin) in Long-Evans rats placed in two different feeding situations, e.g., either with imposed diets or with food choice. In the first case, the rats were fed unbalanced diets (either high-carbohydrate (HC) or high-fat (HF) diets) for 14 weeks, whereas in the second situation, they had the choice between these 2 diets for 2 weeks and were selected for their fat or carbohydrate preference. The intake of the HF diet for 14 weeks was associated with lower levels of ghrelin (-30% vs control diet; P < 0.01). These levels increased when the percentage of carbohydrate in the diet increased (+26 to +42% vs control diet; P < 0.01 or less). Ghrelin was inversely correlated with plasma leptin (r = -0.55; P < 0.003) and blood glucose (r = -0.58; P < 0.001) as well as with body weight (r = -0.63; P < 0.0001) and body fat content estimated by the sampling of specific fat pads (r = -0.62; P < 0.0001). In the food choice experiment, fat-preferring rats had plasma ghrelin levels lower than the carbohydrate-preferring rats (-33%; P < 0.0002). Ghrelin secretion was therefore very sensitive to the diet composition. Its down-regulation by fat ingestion might serve as a counterregulatory mechanism to limit the development of dietary-induced adiposity. Ghrelin may signal when a high calorie diet is ingested.