Low Plasma Ghrelin Is Associated With Insulin Resistance, Hypertension, and the Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes

  1. Seppo M. Pöykkö,
  2. Eija Kellokoski,
  3. Sohvi Hörkkö,
  4. Heikki Kauma,
  5. Y. Antero Kesäniemi and
  6. Olavi Ukkola
  1. From the Department of Internal Medicine and Biocenter Oulu, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Seppo Pöykkö, Laboratory of Internal Medicine, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 5000, FIN-90014 Oulu, Finland. E-mail: seppo.poykko{at}ppshp.fi


Experimental studies have suggested that ghrelin plays a role in glucose homeostasis and in the regulation of blood pressure (BP). We therefore assessed the hypothesis that a low ghrelin concentration may be a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and hypertension. We also characterized the effect of the ghrelin Arg51Gln and Leu72Met mutations on ghrelin concentrations in the population-based hypertensive (n = 519) and control (n = 526) cohorts of our OPERA (Oulu Project Elucidating Risk of Atherosclerosis) study. The fasting plasma ghrelin concentrations of 1,040 subjects were analyzed using the radioimmunoassay method. Insulin sensitivity was assessed using the quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (QUICKI). Ghrelin concentrations were negatively associated with fasting insulin (P < 0.001), systolic (P = 0.026) and diastolic BP (P = 0.018), and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes (P = 0.015) and insulin resistance (P < 0.001) in the multivariate models. In the control cohort, low ghrelin was associated with hypertension (BP >140/90 mmHg) (P = 0.031). The subjects with the ghrelin 51Gln allele had lower ghrelin concentrations than the Arg51Arg homozygotes (P = 0.001). We conclude that low ghrelin is independently associated with type 2 diabetes, insulin concentration, insulin resistance, and elevated BP. Therefore, it might have some role in the etiology of type 2 diabetes and the regulation of BP. The ghrelin Arg51Gln mutation is associated with low plasma ghrelin concentrations.


    • Accepted July 2, 2003.
    • Received March 25, 2003.
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