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Ethanol affects acylated and total ghrelin levels in peripheral blood of alcohol-dependent rats


Correspondence to: Michal Szulc, Rokietnicka 5a, 60-806 Poznan, Poland. E-mail:


There is a hypothesis that ghrelin could take part in the central effects of alcohol as well as function as a peripheral indicator of the changes which occur during long-term alcohol consumption. The aim of this study was to determine a correlation between alcohol concentration and acylated and total form of ghrelin after a single administration of alcohol (intraperitoneal, i.p.) (experiment 1) and prolonged ethanol consumption (experiment 2). The study was performed using Wistar alcohol preferring (PR) and non-preferring (NP) rats and rats from inbred line (Warsaw High Preferring, WHP; Warsaw Low Preferring, WLP). It was found that ghrelin in ethanol-naive WHP animals showed a significantly lower level when compared with the ethanol-naive WLP or Wistar rats. After acute ethanol administration in doses of 1.0; 2.0 and 4.0 g/kg, i.p., the simple (WHP) or inverse (WLP and Wistar) relationship between alcohol concentration and both form of ghrelin levels in plasma were found. Chronic alcohol intake in all groups of rats led to decrease of acylated ghrelin concentration. PR and WHP rats, after chronic alcohol drinking, had lower levels of both form of ghrelin in comparison with NP and WLP rats, respectively, and the observed differences in ghrelin levels were in inverse relationship with their alcohol intake. In conclusion, it is suggested that there is a strong relationship between alcohol administration or intake, ethanol concentration in blood and both active and total ghrelin level in the experimental animals, and that ghrelin plasma concentration can be a marker of alcohol drinking predisposition.