Ghrelin receptors in human gastrointestinal tract during prenatal and early postnatal development

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The aim of our study was to investigate the appearance, density and distribution of ghrelin cells and GHS-R1a and GHS-R1b in the human stomach and duodenum during prenatal and early postnatal development. We examined chromogranin-A and ghrelin cells in duodenum, and GHS-R1a and GHS-R1b expression in stomach and duodenum by immunohistochemistry in embryos, fetuses, and infants. Chromogranin-A and ghrelin cells were identified in the duodenum at weeks 10 and 11 of gestation. Ghrelin cells were detected individually or clustered within the base of duodenal crypts and villi during the first trimester, while they were presented separately within the basal and apical parts of crypts and villi during the second and third trimesters. Ghrelin cells were the most numerous during the first (˜11%) and third (˜10%) trimesters of gestation development. GHS-R1a and GHS-R1b were detected at 11 and 16 weeks of gestation, showed the highest level of expression in Brunner's gland and in lower parts of duodenal crypts and villi during the second trimester in antrum, and during the third trimester in corpus and duodenum. Our findings demonstrated for the first time abundant duodenal expression of ghrelin cells and ghrelin receptors during human prenatal development indicating a role of ghrelin in the regulation of growth and differentiation of human gastrointestinal tract.

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