Current and potential roles of ghrelin in clinical practice

J Endocrinol Invest. 2010;33(11):823-38

Angelidis G, Valotassiou V, Georgoulias P

Department of Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital of Larissa, Larissa, Greece

Ghrelin is a novel GH-releasing peptide, which has been identified as an endogenous ligand for GH-secretagogue receptor. Ghrelin is mainly secreted by the stomach and plays a critical role in a variety of physiological processes including endocrine, metabolic, cardiovascular, immunological, and other actions. Ghrelin stimulates food intake via hypothalamic neurons and causes a positive energy balance and body weight gain by decreasing fat utilization and promoting adiposity. Given the multiple effects of ghrelin, its potential clinical applications have been evaluated in various conditions. Preliminary trials have shown that it may prove valuable in the management of disease-induced cachexia. Ghrelin may improve the wasting syndrome through GH-dependent or GH-independent effects. Moreover, ghrelin may play a role in the management of disorders of gut motility and obesity. Finally, other potential clinical applications of ghrelin include the treatment of patients with diabetes mellitus, infections, rheumatological diseases or GH deficiency and the diagnosis of this hormonal disorder.