A-like cells in the rat stomach contain ghrelin and do not operate under gastrin control

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Ghrelin is a 28 a.a. gastric peptide, recently identified as a natural ligand of the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (orphan receptor distinct from the receptor fur growth hormone releasing hormone). In the present study. radioimmunoassay demonstrated ghrelin-like material in the rat oxyntic mucosa with moderate amounts also in antrum and duodenum. Small amounts: were found in the distal intestines and pancreas. Northern blot analysis revealed abundant ghrelin mRNA in thr oxyntic mucosa. Immunocytochemistry demonstrated ghrelin-immunoreactivity in endocrine-like cells in the oxyntic mucosa. Such cells occurred in low numbers also in the antrum and duodenum. The mt oxyntic mucosa is rich in endocrine (chromogranin A/pancreastatin-immunoreactive) cells. such as the histamine-rich ECL cells (65-75% of the endocrine cells). the A-like cells (20-25%) and the D cells (somatostatin cells) (10%). The ghrelin-immunoreactive (IR) cells contained pancreastatin but differed from ECL cells and D cells by being devoid of histamine-forming enzyme (ECL cell constituent) and somatostatin (D cell constituent). Hence. ghrelin seems to occur in the A-like cells. The ghrelin-IR cells in the antrum were distinct from the gastrin cells, the serotonin-containing enterochromaffin cells and the D cells. Conceivably, ghrelin cells in the antrum and distally in the intestines also belong to the A-like cell population. The concentration of ghrelin in the circulation was: lowered by about 80% following the surgical removal of the acid-producing part of the stomach in line with the view that the oxyntic mucosa is the major sourer of ghrelin. The serum ghrelin concentration was higher in fasted rats than in fed rats; it was reduced upon re-feeding and seemed unaffected by 1-week treatment with the proton pump inhibitor omeprazole, resulting in elevated serum gastrin concentration. Infusion of gastrin-17 for 2 days failed to raise the serum ghrelin concentration. Omeprazole treatment for 10 weeks raised the level of HDC mRNA but not that of ghrelin mRNA or somatostatin mRNA in the oxyntic mucosa. Hence, unlike the ECL cells, ghrelin-containing A-like cells do not seem to operate under gastrin control.


  • Charlotta de la Cour
  • Maria Björkqvist
  • A.K. Sandvik
  • I. Bakke
  • C.M. Zhao
  • D. Chen
  • Rolf Håkanson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cell and Molecular Biology


  • Rat, Gastrointestinal tract, Immunocytochemistry, Radioimmunoassay, Northern blot
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-150
JournalRegulatory Peptides
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Publication categoryResearch