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The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Obesity is a mounting problem in America today. One major concern about obesity is that it is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, a disease that impairs insulin sensitivity and secretion. This interferes with blood glucose levels and can cause hyperglycemia, which is when there is too much circulating glucose in the blood. Ghrelin, an amino acid peptide responsible for appetite stimulation and energy balance, plays a direct role in insulin secretion and glucose metabolism. In many experiments, elevated ghrelin levels are associated with decreased insulin secretion from pancreatic islet cells. Although ghrelin concentration is decreased in obese individuals and diabetics, researchers attempt to use the ghrelin system as a treatment option for these people. It seeks to accomplish this by regulating the ghrelin produced by the body, diminishing its activity, affecting its receptor, the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R1a), and by targeting ghrelin directly. Studies observed these methods’ effects on insulin secretion and sensitivity as well as blood glucose concentration. The octanoylation of ghrelin, which activates it, is catalyzed by ghrelin Oacyltransferace (GOAT). Therefore GOAT inhibitors are one way of minimizing ghrelin’s effects on metabolism. Additionally, cAMP concentrations decrease in islet cells of the pancreas in the presence of ghrelin. Using cAMP analogs can counter ghrelin’s consequences as well. On the other hand, targeting the GHS-R1a receptor with an antagonist can also help enhance insulin secretion. Another research option entails using immunoneutralization to build antibodies against endogenous ghrelin. Lastly, studies have examined ghrelin knockout models in mice, by deleting the ghrelin gene, to examine the results that the lack of ghrelin has on insulin-glucose metabolism. Each of these methods has been proven to affect insulin and glucose metabolism. Further advances in the clinical application of these methods may lead to viable treatment options for obesity and diabetes.

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