The Role of Ghrelin in Eating Behavior

  • Mihai Covasa
  • Timothy Swartz


Ghrelin is the endogenous ligand for the growth hormone secretagouge receptor-1a and is released from the basolateral membrane of the X/A-type cells in the mucosal layer of the stomach. Factors regulating ghrelin secretion include energy status, time of meals, and nutrient components of the meal. There are two forms of ghrelin in the circulation: des-acyl ghrelin and acyl ghrelin, with the acylated peptide being the biologically active form. Ghrelin increases motility of the gastrointestinal tract from the stomach to the colon as well as stimulating secretion of gastric acid. Both systemic as well as central exogenous ghrelin stimulate food intake and secretion of growth hormone. To increase food intake, ghrelin acts through both endocrine and paracrine pathways. In the central nervous system, ghrelin activates neurons in the hindbrain and hypothalamus that are heavily involved in the control of food intake and produce orexigenic neuropeptides. Ghrelin may also play a role in the intake of palatable food as it increases the consumption of high-fat foods as well as other preferred nutrients. Finally, ghrelin shares antagonistic interactions with several peripheral satiety peptides. This chapter summarizes the role of ghrelin as an agent inducing food intake, its mechanisms of action, and its potential participation in the regulation of energy homeostasis.


Ghrelin Level Increase Food Intake Palatable Food Plasma Ghrelin Level Acyl Ghrelin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Area postrema


Arcuate nucleus




Central nervous system


Dorsomedial hypothalamus


Dorsal vagal complex


Fos-like immunoreactivity


Growth hormone


Growth hormone secretagogue




Glucagon-like peptide-1


Gastric O-acyl transferase










messenger RNA


Nucleus tractus solitarius


Paraventricular nucleus


Peptide tyrosine-tyrosine


Ventromedial hypothalamus


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INRAÉcologie et Physiologie du Système DigestifJouy-en-JosasFrance

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