Ghrelin has been implicated in the control of food intake and in the long-term regulation of body weight. We theorize that preventing the ability of ghrelin to interact with its receptors, would eventually lead to decreased appetite and thereby decrease body weight gain. To test our hypothesis, pigs were actively immunized against ghrelin. Ghrelin(1-10) was conjugated to BSA and emulsified in Freund's incomplete adjuvant and diethylaminoethyl-dextran. Primary immunization was given at 19 weeks of age (WOA), with booster immunizations given 20 and 40 days after primary immunization. Body weight (BW) and plasma samples were collected weekly beginning at 19 WOA, and feed intake was measured daily. Fourteen days after primary immunization, the percentage of bound 125I-ghrelin in plasma from immunized pigs was increased compared with control animals (P < 0.001). Voluntary feed intake was decreased more than 15% in animals that were actively immunized against ghrelin compared with controls. By the end of the experiment, immunized pigs weighed 10% less than control animals (P < 0.1). Concentrations of GH were increased (P < 0.05) in immunized pigs. Apoptosis was not observed in post-mortem samples obtained from the fundic region of the stomach. Our observations suggest that immunization against ghrelin induces mild anorexia. This procedure could potentially be used as a treatment to control caloric intake and obesity.
- Growth hormone