Variable effect of ghrelin administration on pancreatic development in young rats. Role of insulin-like growth factor-1
Ghrelin, an endogenous ligand of the growth hormone secretagogue receptor, has been primarily isolated from the human and rat stomach. Ghrelin has been shown to stimulate appetite and fat deposition in adult rats and humans. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of ghrelin administration on pancreatic growth in suckling, weaned and peripubertal seven week old rats. Rats were treated with saline or ghrelin (4, 8 or 16 nmol/kg/dose) intraperitoneally twice a day: suckling rats were treated for 7 or 14 days starting from the first postnatal day, three week old weaned rats and seven weeks old rats were treated for 5 days. Treatment with ghrelin did not affect animal weight in suckling or weaned rats, whereas in young seven week old rats, ghrelin caused a significant increase in body weight. Ghrelin decreased food intake in weaned rats; whereas in seven week old rats, food intake was enhanced. In suckling rats, ghrelin decreased the pancreatic weight, pancreatic amylase content, DNA synthesis and DNA content. In contrast, ghrelin increased pancreatic weight, DNA synthesis, DNA content and amylase content in weaned or young seven week old rats. Pancreatic blood flow was not affected by ghrelin in any group of rats tested. Ghrelin increased serum level of growth hormone in all rats. This effect was weak in suckling rats, higher in weaned and the highest in seven week old animals. Ghrelin did not affect serum level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in suckling rats. In weaned and in seven week old rats, treatment with ghrelin caused increase in serum level of IGF-1. We conclude that ghrelin reduces pancreatic growth in suckling rats; whereas in weaned and young seven week old animals, treatment with ghrelin increases pancreatic growth. This biphasic effect of ghrelin in young animals on pancreatic growth seems to be related to age-dependent changes of the release of anabolic IGF-1.