Localization of ghrelin and its receptor in the reproductive tract of Holstein heifers

S. E. Deaver, P. B. Hoyer, S. M. Dial, M. E. Field, R. J. Collier, M. L. Rhoads

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The aim of this experiment was to localize the mRNA and protein of ghrelin and its active receptor, growth hormone secretagogue 1A (GHS-R1A), within the reproductive tract of dairy cattle. Ghrelin is an orexigenic hormone that has been identified as a potent regulator of energy homeostasis. Recent evidence suggests that ghrelin may also serve as a metabolic signal to the reproductive tract. Ghrelin and GHS-R1A have been identified in the reproductive tract of several species, including humans, mice, and rats. However, ghrelin and GHS-R1A expression have not been described within bovine reproductive tissues. Therefore, the ampulla, isthmus, uterine body, corpus luteum, and follicles were harvested from 3 Holstein heifers (15.91±0.07. mo of age) immediately following exsanguination. Duodenum and hypothalamus were collected as positive controls for ghrelin and GHS-R1A, respectively. Tissues were fixed in 10% formalin and embedded in paraffin for microscopy. Additional samples were stored at -80°C for detection of mRNA. Ghrelin and GHS-R1A mRNA and protein were observed in all tissue types within the reproductive tract of dairy heifers; however, expression appeared to be cell specific. Furthermore, ghrelin protein appeared to be localized to the cytoplasm, whereas GHS-R1A protein was found on the plasma membrane. Within the reproductive tissues, ghrelin mRNA and protein were most abundantly expressed in the ampulla of the oviduct. Concentrations of GHS-R1A were lower than those of ghrelin but differed between tissues. This is one of the first studies to provide molecular evidence for the presence of ghrelin and GHS-R1A within the entire reproductive tract. However, implications for fertility remain to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-157
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Dairy cattle
  • Ghrelin
  • Ghrelin receptor (GHS-R1A)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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