The Gut Hormone Ghrelin Partially Reverses Energy Substrate Metabolic Alterations in the Failing HeartCLINICAL PERSPECTIVE
Background—The gut-derived hormone ghrelin, especially its acylated form, plays a major role in the regulation of systemic metabolism and exerts also relevant cardioprotective effects; hence, it has been proposed for the treatment of heart failure (HF). We tested the hypothesis that ghrelin can directly modulate cardiac energy substrate metabolism.
Methods and Results—We used chronically instrumented dogs, 8 with pacing-induced HF and 6 normal controls. Human des-acyl ghrelin [1.2 nmol/kg per hour] was infused intravenously for 15 minutes, followed by washout (rebaseline) and infusion of acyl ghrelin at the same dose. 3H-oleate and 14C-glucose were coinfused and arterial and coronary sinus blood sampled to measure cardiac free fatty acid and glucose oxidation and lactate uptake. As expected, cardiac substrate metabolism was profoundly altered in HF because baseline oxidation levels of free fatty acids and glucose were, respectively, >70% lower and >160% higher compared with control. Neither des-acyl ghrelin nor acyl ghrelin significantly affected function and metabolism in normal hearts. However, in HF, des-acyl and acyl ghrelin enhanced myocardial oxygen consumption by 10.2±3.5% and 9.9±3.7%, respectively (P<0.05), and cardiac mechanical efficiency was not significantly altered. This was associated, respectively, with a 41.3±6.7% and 32.5±10.9% increase in free fatty acid oxidation and a 31.3±9.2% and 41.4±8.9% decrease in glucose oxidation (all P<0.05).
Conclusions—Acute increases in des-acyl or acyl ghrelin do not interfere with cardiac metabolism in normal dogs, whereas they enhance free fatty acid oxidation and reduce glucose oxidation in HF dogs, thus partially correcting metabolic alterations in HF. This novel mechanism might contribute to the cardioprotective effects of ghrelin in HF.
- Received February 3, 2014.
- Accepted May 16, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.