Desacyl Ghrelin Decreases Anxiety-like Behavior in Male Mice.
Ghrelin is a 28-amino acid polypeptide that regulates feeding, glucose metabolism, and emotionality (stress, anxiety, and depression). Plasma ghrelin circulates as desacyl ghrelin (DAG) or, in an acylated form, acyl ghrelin (AG), through the actions of ghrelin O-acyltransferase (GOAT), exhibiting low or high affinity, respectively, for the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR) 1a. We investigated the role of endogenous AG, DAG, and GHSR1a signaling on anxiety and stress responses using ghrelin knockout (Ghr KO), GOAT KO, and Ghsr stop-floxed (Ghsr null) mice. Behavioral and hormonal responses were tested in the elevated plus maze and light/dark (LD) box. Mice lacking both AG and DAG (Ghr KO) increased anxiety-like behaviors across tests, whereas anxiety reactions were attenuated in DAG-treated Ghr KO mice and in mice lacking AG (GOAT KO). Notably, loss of GHSR1a (Ghsr null) did not affect anxiety-like behavior in any test. Administration of AG and DAG to Ghr KO mice with lifelong ghrelin deficiency reduced anxiety-like behavior and decreased phospho-extracellular signal-regulated kinase phosphorylation in the Edinger-Westphal nucleus in wild-type mice, a site normally expressing GHSR1a and involved in stress- and anxiety-related behavior. Collectively, our data demonstrate distinct roles for endogenous AG and DAG in regulation of anxiety responses and suggest that the behavioral impact of ghrelin may be context dependent.
Mahbod, P; Smith, EP; Fitzgerald, ME; Morano, RL; Packard, BA; Ghosal, S; Scheimann, JR; Perez-Tilve, D; Herman, JP; Tong, J
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