Ghrelin, a gastric peptide hormone, may regulate mesenchymal cell development. Here we show that ghrelin promotes myogenesis in vitro in the mouse myoblast cell line C2C12 cells. Cells expressing ghrelin demonstrated a significant increase in the differentiation of premyocytes into myocytes. The mean myogenic index in cells stably expressing ghrelin increased significantly relative to control cells (42 ± 2% vs. 16 ± 1%, p<0.05). Western blotting showed that expression of MHC protein was elevated in cells expressing ghrelin compared to control cells. MyoD expression increased after treatment of C2C12 cells with exogenous ghrelin (10-7 M). The stimulatory effect of ghrelin on myogenesis was abolished by either replacement of the third amino acid serine with alanine or deletion of its first nine amino acids. This study demonstrated that ghrelin is a potent stimulator for myogenesis.

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