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Volume 2013, Article ID 518909, 25 pages
Review Article

Structure and Physiological Actions of Ghrelin

Laboratory of Pathophysiological and Nutritional Biochemistry, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 808 Route de Lennik, Bat G/E-CP611, 1070 Brussels, Belgium

Received 8 October 2013; Accepted 10 November 2013

Academic Editors: E. Hajduch, A. Salehi, and N. Ueno

Copyright © 2013 Christine Delporte. 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 is a gastric peptide hormone, discovered as being the endogenous ligand of growth hormone secretagogue receptor. Ghrelin is a 28 amino acid peptide presenting a unique n-octanoylation modification on its serine in position 3, catalyzed by ghrelin O-acyl transferase. Ghrelin is mainly produced by a subset of stomach cells and also by the hypothalamus, the pituitary, and other tissues. Transcriptional, translational, and posttranslational processes generate ghrelin and ghrelin-related peptides. Homo- and heterodimers of growth hormone secretagogue receptor, and as yet unidentified receptors, are assumed to mediate the biological effects of acyl ghrelin and desacyl ghrelin, respectively. Ghrelin exerts wide physiological actions throughout the body, including growth hormone secretion, appetite and food intake, gastric secretion and gastrointestinal motility, glucose homeostasis, cardiovascular functions, anti-inflammatory functions, reproductive functions, and bone formation. This review focuses on presenting the current understanding of ghrelin and growth hormone secretagogue receptor biology, as well as the main physiological effects of ghrelin.