Ghrelin is a peptide hormone produced mainly in the stomach that has widespread tissue distribution and diverse hormonal,
metabolic and cardiovascular activities. The circulating ghrelin concentration increases during fasting and decreases after food intake.
Ghrelin secretion may thus be initiated by food intake and is possibly controlled by nutritional factors. Lean subjects have increased levels
of circulating ghrelin compared with obese subjects. Recent reports show that low plasma ghrelin is associated with elevated fasting
insulin levels, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Factors involved in the regulation of ghrelin secretion have not yet been defined;
however, it is assumed that blood glucose levels represent a significant regulator. Recent evidence indicates that ghrelin can increase
myocardial contractility, enhance vasodilatation, and has protective effect from myocardial damage. It has been shown that ghrelin
may improve cardiac function through growth hormone (GH)-dependent mechanisms but there is also evidence to suggest that ghrelin's
cardioprotective activity is independent of GH. Recent data demonstrate that ghrelin can influence key events in atherogenesis. Thus,
ghrelin may be a new target for the treatment of some cardiovascular diseases. In this review, we consider the current literature focusing
on ghrelin as a potential antiatherogenic agent in the treatment of various pathophysiological conditions.
Keywords: Ghrelin, cardiovascular system, cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes mellitus.
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