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1.  Metabolic regulation of ghrelin O-acyl transferase (GOAT) expression in the mouse hypothalamus, pituitary, and stomach 
Ghrelin acts as an endocrine link connecting physiological processes regulating food intake, body composition, growth, and energy balance. Ghrelin is the only peptide known to undergo octanoylation. The enzyme mediating this process, ghrelin O-acyltransferase (GOAT), is expressed in the gastrointestinal tract (GI; primary source of circulating ghrelin) as well as other tissues. The present study demonstrates that stomach GOAT mRNA levels correlate with circulating acylated-ghrelin levels in fasted and diet-induced obese mice. In addition, GOAT was found to be expressed in both the pituitary and hypothalamus (two target tissues of ghrelin’s actions), and regulated in response to metabolic status. Using primary pituitary cell cultures as a model system to study the regulation of GOAT expression, we found that acylated-ghrelin, but not desacyl-ghrelin, increased GOAT expression. In addition, growth-hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) and leptin increased, while somatostatin (SST) decreased GOAT expression. The physiologic relevance of these later results is supported by the observation that pituitary GOAT expression in mice lacking GHRH, SST and leptin showed opposite changes to those observed after in vitro treatment with the corresponding peptides. Therefore, it seems plausible that these hormones directly contribute to the regulation of pituitary GOAT. Interestingly, in all the models studied, pituitary GOAT expression paralleled changes in the expression of a dominant spliced-variant of ghrelin (In2-ghrelin) and therefore this transcript may be a primary substrate for pituitary GOAT. Collectively, these observations support the notion that the GI tract is not the only source of acylated-ghrelin, but in fact locally-produced des-acylated-ghrelin could be converted to acylated-ghrelin within target tissues by locally active GOAT, to mediate its tissue-specific effects.
PMCID: PMC2819060  PMID: 20035826
Ghrelin O-Acyl Transferase (GOAT); mouse models (fasting, obesity, knockouts); stomach; pituitary; hypothalamus
2.  Does the pituitary somatotrope play a primary role in regulating GH output in metabolic extremes? 
Circulating growth hormone (GH) levels rise in response to nutrient deprivation and fall in states of nutrient excess. Since GH regulates carbohydrate, lipid and protein metabolism, defining the mechanisms by which changes in metabolism alters GH secretion will aid in our understanding of the cause, progression and treatment of metabolic diseases. This review will summarize what is currently known regarding the impact of systemic metabolic signals on GH-axis function. In addition, ongoing studies using the Cre/loxP system to generate mouse models with selective somatotrope resistance to metabolic signals, will be discussed, where these models will serve to enhance our understanding of the specific role the somatotrope plays in sensing the metabolic environment and adjusting GH output in metabolic extremes.
PMCID: PMC3444739  PMID: 21388406
growth hormone; somatotrope; fasting; obesity
3.  Metabolic Impact of Adult-Onset, Isolated, Growth Hormone Deficiency (AOiGHD) Due to Destruction of Pituitary Somatotropes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e15767.
Growth hormone (GH) inhibits fat accumulation and promotes protein accretion, therefore the fall in GH observed with weight gain and normal aging may contribute to metabolic dysfunction. To directly test this hypothesis a novel mouse model of adult onset-isolated GH deficiency (AOiGHD) was generated by cross breeding rat GH promoter-driven Cre recombinase mice (Cre) with inducible diphtheria toxin receptor mice (iDTR) and treating adult Cre+/−,iDTR+/− offspring with DT to selectively destroy the somatotrope population of the anterior pituitary gland, leading to a reduction in circulating GH and IGF-I levels. DT-treated Cre−/−,iDTR+/− mice were used as GH-intact controls. AOiGHD improved whole body insulin sensitivity in both low-fat and high-fat fed mice. Consistent with improved insulin sensitivity, indirect calorimetry revealed AOiGHD mice preferentially utilized carbohydrates for energy metabolism, as compared to GH-intact controls. In high-fat, but not low-fat fed AOiGHD mice, fat mass increased, hepatic lipids decreased and glucose clearance and insulin output were impaired. These results suggest the age-related decline in GH helps to preserve systemic insulin sensitivity, and in the context of moderate caloric intake, prevents the deterioration in metabolic function. However, in the context of excess caloric intake, low GH leads to impaired insulin output, and thereby could contribute to the development of diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3023710  PMID: 21283519

Results 1-3 (3)