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What is Ghrelin?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Ghrelin is a hormone created by P/D1 cells, which are found in the stomach lining. It's also found in smaller amounts in the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, kidney, and placenta. In addition, it is created by a small number of neurons located in the arcuate nucleus.

This hormone is known to encourage the secretion of growth hormones from the anterior pituitary gland. This is because the anterior pituitary gland contains special ghrelin receptors, which were discovered before the hormone itself ever was. For this reason, the ghrelin receptor is also referred to as the growth hormone secretagoue receptor (GHS-R). In addition to the anterior pituitary gland, receptors are also found in the heart, hypothalamus, and adipose tissue.

Ghrelin is also responsible for stimulating the appetite and has been found to increase the appetite before eating and to decrease it afterward. In laboratory tests, humans who were injected with it reported an increase in hunger. In addition, research seems to demonstrate that ghrelin suppresses the utilization of fat in the adipose tissue. In essence, the hormone appears to be at least partially responsible for letting the body know when it is hungry and for keeping the body informed about the energy balance of the brain and the body.

In the gastrointestinal system, ghrelin stimulates emptying of the gastric system. It also appears to affect the function of the cardiovascular system positively in a variety of ways, such as by increasing cardiac output. Research is still unclear, however, as to whether it provides these positive effects itself or whether they are due to the growth hormone secretion that is stimulated by ghrelin.

This hormone also has an effect on brain function. It appears to play a large part in neurotrophy, especially as it applies to the hippocampus. In addition, ghrelin is important in helping the brain make cognitive adaptations and other changes in response to the environment. Therefore, it is critical to the learning process.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon170776 — On Apr 27, 2011

Grehlin and cortisol are linked. Cortisol (the stress hormone) puts your body into survival mode: stores sugar in the form of fat for later hard times.

When you are not in stress, cortisol levels are low, also allowing insulin levels to even out, and sugar to be burned rather than stored. Research the link cortisol/stress/insulin/fat storage. Stress also increases grehlin levels, making you hungry and not feeling full even after a big enough meal. I hope this helps. Good luck. it's worth it!

By anon163664 — On Mar 28, 2011

chronic stress releases cortisol hormone which acts like steroids in your blood streams so your omentum (where most of excess calories are stored). the problem is the cortisol hormone increases the ability of omentum to store fat and make your omentum resistant to insulin so that sugar flouts around without being absorbed and used by your body.

By ashishdhyani — On Jan 05, 2011

Ghrelin only induces the appetite mechanism in the body via brain. It partially shows an effect on energy homeostasis, but does not usually impact weight gain,

There are some other reasons for your overweight cause. It may be due to sedentary lifestyle, high fat diet, genetic predisposition could be the reasons. Consult your physician. He or she can better examine your physical and dietary condition and will advise accordingly. All the best.

By anon16581 — On Aug 09, 2008

I have had a lot of stress in my life. I weigh about 95 kilos and can't get any weight off. I am 54 and have joined a slimming club, but still can't lose much weight although my friend the same age has lost 4 stone quite easily. I was slim all my life until 10 years ago after a lot of stress. Coulod Ghrelin be the reason? Is there a way I can reduce this hormone?

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