The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of physiologic levels of ghrelin on insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity (glucose disposal) in scheduled fedsheep, using the hyperglycemic clamp and hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp respectively. Twelve castrated Suffolk rams (69.8 ± 0.6 kg) were conditioned to be fed alfalfa hay cubes (2% of body weight) once a day. Three hours after the feeding, synthetic ovine ghrelin was intravenously administered to the animals at a rate of 0.025 and 0.05 μg/kg body weight (BW) per min for 3 h. Concomitantly, the hyperglycemic clamp or the hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp was carried out. In the hyperglycemic clamp, a target glucose concentration was clamped at 100 mg/100 ml above the initial level. In the hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp, insulin was intravenously administered to the animals for 3 h at a rate of 2 mU/kg BW per min. Basal glucose concentrations (44 ± 1 mg/dl) were maintained by variably infusing 100 mg/dl glucose solution. In both clamps, plasma ghrelin concentrations were dose-dependently elevated and maintained at a constant level within the physiologic range. Ghrelin infusions induced a significant (ANOVA; P<0.01) increase in plasma GH concentrations. In the hyperglycemic clamp, plasma insulin levels were increased by glucose infusion and were significantly (P<0.05) greater in ghrelin-infused animals. In the hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp, glucose infusion rate, an index of insulin sensitivity, was not affected by ghrelin infusion. In conclusion, the present study has demonstrated for the first time that ghrelin enhances glucose-induced insulin secretion in the ruminant animal.
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