Des-acyl ghrelin, although devoid of binding to ghrelin receptor (GRLN), exerts many biological effects, including regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism. Indeed, des-acyl ghrelin promotes pancreatic β-cell and human islet cell survival and prevents diabetes in streptozotocin (STZ) treated rats. We investigated whether des-acyl ghrelin fragments excluding serine 3, which is essential for binding to GRLN, would display similar actions. Among the different compounds tested, des-acyl ghrelin (6-13) and des-acyl ghrelin (6-13) with alanine substitutions or cyclization, but not with d-amino acid substitutions, showed the best survival effect, similar to des-acyl ghrelin. Des-acyl ghrelin (6-13) even prevented diabetes in STZ-treated rats and protected human circulating angiogenic cells from oxidative stress and senescence, similar to des-acyl ghrelin. These results suggest that not only full-length des-acyl ghrelin but also short des-acyl ghrelin fragments have clear beneficial effects on several tissues in vitro and in vivo.

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Journal Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
Granata, R, Settanni, F, Julien, M, Nano, R, Togliatto, G, Trombetta, A, … Ghigo, E. (2012). Des-acyl ghrelin fragments and analogues promote survival of pancreatic β-cells and human pancreatic islets and prevent diabetes in streptozotocin-treated rats. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 55(6), 2585–2596. doi:10.1021/jm201223m