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International Journal of Peptides
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 864342, 7 pages
Review Article

Metabolic and Cardiovascular Effects of Ghrelin

1Department of Medicina Interna, Università di Tor Vergata, 00133 Rome, Italy
2Istituto di Patologia Speciale Medica e Semeiotica Medica, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, 00168 Roma, Italy

Received 19 November 2009; Accepted 16 January 2010

Academic Editor: Alessandro Laviano

Copyright © 2010 Manfredi Tesauro et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Ghrelin, an endogenous ligand for the growth hormone secretagogue receptor, is synthesized as a preprohormone and then proteolytically processed to yield a 28-amino acid peptide. This peptide was originally reported to induce growth hormone release; large evidence, however, has indicated many other physiological activities of ghrelin, including regulation of food intake and energy balance, as well as of lipid and glucose metabolism. Ghrelin receptors have been detected in the hypothalamus and the pituitary, but also in the cardiovascular system, where ghrelin exerts beneficial hemodynamic activities. Ghrelin administration acutely improves endothelial dysfunction by increasing nitric oxide bioavailability and normalizes the altered balance between endothelin-1 and nitric oxide within the vasculature of patients with metabolic syndrome. Other cardiovascular effects of ghrelin include improvement of left ventricular contractility and cardiac output, as well as reduction of arterial pressure and systemic vascular resistance. In addition, antinflammatory and antiapoptotic actions of ghrelin have been reported both in vivo and in vitro. This review summarizes the most recent findings on the metabolic and cardiovascular effects of ghrelin through GH-dependent and -independent mechanisms and the possible role of ghrelin as a therapeutic molecule for treating cardiovascular diseases.