JOURNAL ARTICLE

Ablation of ghrelin receptor reduces adiposity and improves insulin sensitivity during aging by regulating fat metabolism in white and brown adipose tissues

Ligen Lin, Pradip K Saha, Xiaojun Ma, Iyabo O Henshaw, Longjiang Shao, Benny H J Chang, Eric D Buras, Qiang Tong, Lawrence Chan, Owen P McGuinness, Yuxiang Sun
Aging Cell 2011, 10 (6): 996-1010
21895961
Aging is associated with increased adiposity in white adipose tissues and impaired thermogenesis in brown adipose tissues; both contribute to increased incidences of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Ghrelin is the only known circulating orexigenic hormone that promotes adiposity. In this study, we show that ablation of the ghrelin receptor (growth hormone secretagogue receptor, GHS-R) improves insulin sensitivity during aging. Compared to wild-type (WT) mice, old Ghsr(-/-) mice have reduced fat and preserve a healthier lipid profile. Old Ghsr(-/-) mice also exhibit elevated energy expenditure and resting metabolic rate, yet have similar food intake and locomotor activity. While GHS-R expression in white and brown adipose tissues was below the detectable level in the young mice, GHS-R expression was readily detectable in visceral white fat and interscapular brown fat of the old mice. Gene expression profiles reveal that Ghsr ablation reduced glucose/lipid uptake and lipogenesis in white adipose tissues but increased thermogenic capacity in brown adipose tissues. Ghsr ablation prevents age-associated decline in thermogenic gene expression of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1). Cell culture studies in brown adipocytes further demonstrate that ghrelin suppresses the expression of adipogenic and thermogenic genes, while GHS-R antagonist abolishes ghrelin's effects and increases UCP1 expression. Hence, GHS-R plays an important role in thermogenic impairment during aging. Ghsr ablation improves aging-associated obesity and insulin resistance by reducing adiposity and increasing thermogenesis. Growth hormone secretagogue receptor antagonists may be a new means of combating obesity by shifting the energy balance from obesogenesis to thermogenesis.

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