Pregnancy, but not dietary octanoic acid supplementation, stimulates the ghrelin-pituitary growth hormone axis in mice

Harleen Kaur, Beverly S. Muhlhausler, Pamela Su Lin Sim, Amanda J. Page, Hui Li, Maria Nunez-Salces, Georgia S. Clarke, Lili Huang, Rebecca L. Wilson, Johannes D. Veldhuis, Chen Chen, Claire T. Roberts, Kathryn L. Gatford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Circulating growth hormone (GH) concentrations increase during pregnancy in mice and remain pituitary-derived. Whether abundance or activation of the GH secretagogue ghrelin increase during pregnancy, or in response to dietary octanoic acid supplementation, is unclear. We therefore measured circulating GH profiles in late pregnant C57BL/6J mice and in aged-matched non-pregnant females fed with standard laboratory chow supplemented with 5% octanoic or palmitic (control) acid (n = 4-13/group). Serum total and acyl-ghrelin concentrations, stomach and placenta ghrelin mRNA and protein expression, Pcsk1 (encoding prohormone convertase 1/3) and Mboat4 (membrane bound O-acyl transferase 4) mRNA were determined at zeitgeber (ZT) 13 and ZT23. Total and basal GH secretion were higher in late pregnant than non-pregnant mice (P < 0.001), regardless of diet. At ZT13, serum concentrations of total ghrelin (P = 0.004), but not acyl-ghrelin, and the density of ghrelin-positive cells in the gastric antrum (P = 0.019) were higher, and gastric Mboat4 and Pcsk1 mRNA expression were lower in pregnant than non-pregnant mice at ZT23. In the placenta, ghrelin protein was localised mostly to labyrinthine trophoblast cells. Serum acyl-, but not total, ghrelin was lower at mid-pregnancy than in non-pregnant mice, but not different at early or late pregnancy. In conclusion, dietary supplementation with 5% octanoic acid did not increase activation of ghrelin in female mice. Our results further suggest that increases in maternal GH secretion throughout murine pregnancy are not due to circulating acyl-ghrelin acting at the pituitary. Nevertheless, time-dependent increased circulating total ghrelin could potentially increase ghrelin action in tissues that express the acylating enzyme and receptor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-342
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Ghrelin
  • Growth hormone
  • Mouse
  • Octanoic acid
  • Pregnancy


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