Ghrelin improves burn-induced delayed gastrointestinal transit in rats

H. S. Sallam, H. M. Oliveira, H. T. Gan, D. N. Herndon, J. D.Z. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Delayed gastrointestinal transit is common in patients with severe burn. Ghrelin is a potent prokinetic peptide. We aimed at testing the effect of ghrelin on burn-induced delayed gastrointestinal transit in rats. Gastric emptying (GE), intestinal transit (IT), and colonic transit (CT) studies were performed in male Sprague-Dawley rats. Rats were randomized into two main groups as follows: sham injury and ghrelin-treated burn injury with doses of 0, 2, 5, and 10 nmol/rat ip 6 h after burn. Sham/burn injury was induced under anesthesia. Rats received a phenol red meal 20 min following ghrelin injection. Based on the most effective ghrelin dose, 1 mg/kg sc atropine was given 30 min before the ghrelin in one group of rats for each study. The rats in each group were killed 30-90 min later; their stomachs, intestines, and colons were harvested immediately, and the amount of phenol red recovered was measured. Percentage of gastric emptying (GE%) and geometric center for IT and CT were calculated. We found 1) severe cutaneous burn injury significantly delayed GE, IT, and CT compared with sham injury (P < 0.05); 2) ghrelin normalized both GE and IT, but not the CT; 3) the most effective dose of ghrelin was 2 nmol/rat; and 4) atropine blocked the prokinetic effects of ghrelin on GE% and IT. In conclusion, ghrelin normalizes burn-induced delayed GE and IT but has no effect on CT in rats. The prokinetic effects of ghrelin are exerted via the cholinergic pathway. Ghrelin may have a therapeutic potential for burn patients with delayed upper gastrointestinal transit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R253-R257
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Burn
  • Colon transit
  • Gastric emptying
  • Ghrelin
  • Intestinal transit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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