Novel Role of Ghrelin Receptor in Gut Dysbiosis and Experimental Colitis in Aging

Ji Yeon Noh, Chia Shan Wu, Jennifer A.A. Deluca, Sridevi Devaraj, Arul Jayaraman, Robert C. Alaniz, Xiao Di Tan, Clinton D. Allred, Yuxiang Sun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Chronic low-grade inflammation is a hallmark of aging, which is now coined as inflamm-aging. Inflamm-aging contributes to many age-associated diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We have shown that gut hormone ghrelin, via its receptor growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R), regulates energy metabolism and inflammation in aging. Emerging evidence suggests that gut microbiome has a critical role in intestinal immunity of the host. To determine whether microbiome is an integral driving force of GHS-R mediated immune-metabolic homeostasis in aging, we assessed the gut microbiome profiles of young and old GHS-R global knockout (KO) mice. While young GHS-R KO mice showed marginal changes in Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes, aged GHS-R KO mice exhibited reduced Bacteroidetes and increased Firmicutes, featuring a disease-susceptible microbiome profile. To further study the role of GHS-R in intestinal inflammation in aging, we induced acute colitis in young and aged GHS-R KO mice using dextran sulfate sodium (DSS). The GHS-R KO mice showed more severe disease activity scores, higher proinflammatory cytokine expression, and decreased expression of tight junction markers. These results suggest that GHS-R plays an important role in microbiome homeostasis and gut inflammation during aging; GHS-R suppression exacerbates intestinal inflammation in aging and increases vulnerability to colitis. Collectively, our finding reveals for the first time that GHS-R is an important regulator of intestinal health in aging; targeting GHS-R may present a novel therapeutic strategy for prevention/treatment of aging leaky gut and inflammatory bowel disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2219
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022


  • Aging
  • Ghrelin
  • Growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R)
  • Gut permeability
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Microbiome
  • Ulcerative colitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Catalysis
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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