Effects of ghrelin on anorexia in tumor-bearing mice with eicosanoid-related cachexia
- Wenhua Wang
- Marianne Andersson
- Britt-Marie Iresjö
- Christina Lönnroth
- Kent Lundholm
Published online on: June 1, 2006
Ghrelin is a novel brain-gut peptide that stimulates food intake and may secondarily increase body weight via a growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R). Tumor-bearing mice (MCG101), characterized by anorexia, fat loss and muscle wasting due to increased concentration of PGE2 and proinflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α), were provided ghrelin i.p. at a low (20 µg/day) and high dose (40 µg/day) to examine the ability of ghrelin to counteract tumor-induced anorexia. Immunohistochemical staining and Western blot analyses were used to identify GHS-R expression in the brain as well as its relationship to NPY expression in hypothalamic neurons. GHS-R mRNA in hypothalamus and ghrelin mRNA in gastric fundus were quantified by RT-PCR. Body composition was determined by carcass extractions. GHS-R expression in hypothalamus and plasma ghrelin levels were significantly increased in freely-fed tumor-bearing mice, while gastric fundus expression of ghrelin was unaltered compared to non-tumor-bearing mice (controls). Ghrelin treatment increased food intake, body weight and whole body fat at both low and high doses of ghrelin in normal controls, while tumor-bearing mice showed improved intake and body composition at the high dose of ghrelin only. Exogenous ghrelin normalized the GHS-R expression in hypothalamus from tumor-bearing mice without alterations in the gastric fundus expression of ghrelin. Tumor growth was not altered by exogenous ghrelin. Our results indicate that MCG 101-bearing mice became ghrelin resistant despite upregulation of hypothalamic GHS-R expression, which confirms similar indirect observations in cancer patients. Thus, other factors downstream of the ghrelin-GHS-R system appear to be more important than ghrelin to explain cancer-induced anorexia.