A role for ghrelin in the adaptations to location?
In most mammals, meeting the needs of developing young places a large energetic demand on lactating females and entails an array of physiological and behavioral adaptations in addition to the display of maternal behavior itself. These include dramatic increases in food intake and utilisation, suppression of fertility, and changes in mood. In these studies, we investigated the role of ghrelin, a peptide hormone primarily secreted by the stomach with receptors, the growth hormone secretagogue receptor 1a (GHSR 1a), widely distributed in the brain and periphery to these adaptations. The most well known of ghrelin’s actions in the brain is to increase food intake, an effect is mediated primarily by receptors in the arcuate nucleus and ventral tegmental area, so our primary focus was to ask whether ghrelin contributed to the changes in food intake seen during lactation. This hormone has also been implicated in a variety of other functions, however, including modulation of the reproductive axis and, thus, in other studies we examined the potential contribution of ghrelin to the suppression of reproductive function during lactation.