Chronically elevated levels of glucocorticoids increase food intake, weight gain, and adiposity. Similarly, ghrelin, a gut-secreted hormone, is also associated with weight gain, adiposity, and increased feeding. Here we sought to determine if corticosterone-induced metabolic and behavioral changes require functional ghrelin receptors (GHSR). To do this, we treated male C57BL mice with chronic corticosterone (CORT) mixed in their drinking water for 28 days. Half of these mice received the GHSR antagonist JMV2959 via osmotic minipumps while treated with CORT. In a second experiment, we gave the same CORT protocol to mice with a targeted mutation to the GHSR or their wild-type littermates. As expected, CORT treatment increased food intake, weight gain, and adiposity, but contrary to expectations, mice treated with a GHSR receptor antagonist or GHSR knockout (KO) mice did not show attenuated food intake, weight gain, or adiposity in response to CORT. Similarly, the effects of CORT on the liver were the same or more pronounced in GHSR antagonist-treated and GHSR KO mice. Treatment with JMV2959 did attenuate the effects of chronic CORT on glycemic regulation as determined by the glucose tolerance test. Finally, disruption of GHSR signaling resulted in behavioral responses associated with social withdrawal, potentially due to neuroprotective effects of GHSR activation. In all, we propose that blocking GHSR signaling helps to moderate glucose concentrations when CORT levels are high, but blocking GHSR signaling does not prevent increased food intake, weight gain, or increased adiposity produced by chronic CORT.

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Department of Neuroscience

Hay, R.E. (Rebecca E.), Edwards, A. (Alex), Klein, M. (Marianne), Hyland, L, MacDonald, D. (David), Karatsoreos, I. (Ilia), … Abizaid, A. (2020). Ghrelin Receptor Signaling Is Not Required for Glucocorticoid-Induced Obesity in Male Mice. Endocrinology, 161(3). doi:10.1210/endocr/bqz023