Ghrelin selectively reduces mechanosensitivity of upper gastrointestinal vagal afferents

Amanda J. Page, James A. Slattery, Catherine Milte, Rhianna Laker, Tracey O'Donnell, Camilla Dorian, Stuart M. Brierley, L. Ashley Blackshaw

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Ghrelin is a peptide released from gastric endocrine cells that has an orexigenic effect via a vagal pathway. Here we determine the effect of ghrelin on mechanosensitivity of upper-intestinal vagal afferent fibers in ferret and mouse. The responses of gastroesophageal vagal afferents to graded mechanical stimulation were determined in vitro before and during application of ghrelin to their peripheral endings. Three types of vagal afferent were tested: tension receptors responding to circumferential tension, mucosal receptors responding only to mucosal stroking, and tension/mucosal (TM) receptors in ferret esophagus that responded to both stimuli. In the mouse, ghrelin did not significantly affect the response of mucosal receptors to mucosal stroking with calibrated von Frey hairs. However, it significantly reduced responses of tension receptors to circumferential tension (P < 0.005; two-way ANOVA) by up to 40%. This inhibition was reversed by the ghrelin receptor antagonist [D-Lys-3]-growth hormone-releasing peptide (GHRP)-6. In the ferret, ghrelin significantly reduced the response of mucosal and TM receptors to mucosal stroking with calibrated von Frey hairs. Surprisingly, ghrelin did not significantly alter the response to circumferential tension in either tension or TM receptors. RT-PCR analysis indicated that both ghrelin and its receptor are expressed in vagal afferent cell bodies in mouse nodose ganglia. In conclusion, ghrelin selectively inhibits subpopulations of mechanically sensitive gastroesophageal vagal afferents; there is also potential for ghrelin release from vagal afferents. However, the subpopulation of afferents inhibited differs between species. These data have broad implications for ghrelin's role in food intake regulation and reflex control of gastrointestinal function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G1376-G1384
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished or Issued - May 2007


  • In vitro gastroesophageal preparation
  • Mechanoreceptor
  • Neuromodulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)

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