Ghrelin and obestatin: Different role in fetal lung development?

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Ghrelin and obestatin are two proteins that originate from post-translational processing of the preproghrelin peptide. Various authors claim an opposed role of ghrelin and obestatin in several systems. Preproghrelin mRNA is significantly expressed in airway epithelium throughout lung development, predominantly during the earliest stages. The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of ghrelin and obestatin in fetal lung development in vitro. Immunohistochemistry studies were performed at different gestational ages in order to clarify the expression pattern of ghrelin, GHS-R1a, obestatin and GPR39 during fetal lung development. Fetal rat lung explants were harvested at 13.5 days post-conception (dpc) and cultured during 4 days with increasing doses of total ghrelin, acylated ghrelin, desacyl-ghrelin, ghrelin antagonist (D-Lys(3)-GHRP-6) or obestatin. Immunohistochemistry studies demonstrated that ghrelin, GHS-R1a, obestatin and GPR39 proteins were expressed in primitive rat lung epithelium throughout all studied gestational ages. Total and acylated ghrelin supplementation significantly increased the total number of peripheral airway buds, whereas desacyl-ghrelin induced no effect. Moreover, GHS-R1a antagonist significantly decreased lung branching. Finally, obestatin supplementation induced no significant effect in the measured parameters. The present study showed that ghrelin has a positive effect in fetal lung development through its GHS-R1a receptor, whereas obestatin has no effect on lung branching.

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