Effects of ghrelin on neuronal activity in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus in infantile rats: An in vitro study

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Abstract

Ghrelin is an endogenous ligand for the growth hormone (GH) secretagogue (GHS) receptor (GHS-R) and a potent stimulant for GH secretion even in infantile rats before puberty. Although the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (VMH) might be a site of action for ghrelin to induce GH release, the electrophysiological effect of ghrelin on VMH neurons in infantile rats remains to be elucidated. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of ghrelin on VMH neurons using hypothalamic slices of infantile rats. Ghrelin excited a majority of VMH neurons in a concentration-dependent manner. VMH neurons that were excited by GH releasing peptide-6 (GHRP-6), a synthetic GHS, were also excited by ghrelin and vice versa. Repeated application of ghrelin to the same VMH neuron decreased progressively the excitatory responses depending on the number of times it was administered. The excitatory effect of ghrelin on VMH neurons in normal artificial cerebrospinal fluid (ACSF) persisted in low Ca2+-high Mg2+ ACSF. The present results indicate that (1) ghrelin excites a majority of VMH neurons dose-dependently and postsynaptically and (2) the excitatory effects of ghrelin are mimicked by GHRP-6 and desensitized by repeated applications of ghrelin.

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