BACKGROUND: Ghrelin is a peptide with a potent capacity to release GH and other metabolic activities. An acyl modification is indispensable for biological activity. Acylated and desacylated forms of ghrelin are both present in the blood. No data exist about the ratio between active ghrelin and total ghrelin in the first period of life. OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether ghrelin may be involved in physiological roles during fetal life. INFANTS AND METHODS: Ghrelin, growth hormone (GH), and leptin concentrations were measured in cord plasma in 98 newborns of healthy mothers. Acyl-ghrelin and the sum of acylated and desacylated forms of ghrelin (total ghrelin) were measured using specific radioimmunoassays. RESULTS: Acylated ghrelin and total ghrelin did not correlate with birth weight, gestational age, body mass index, head circumference, birth length, leptin or GH in plasma cord blood. CONCLUSIONS: The absence of clinically significant correlations between both active and total ghrelin and GH, leptin or anthropometric data does not enable us to ascribe a precise role to ghrelin in prenatal life.
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