Ghrelin is a key signal driving energy seeking and storage in order to reverse energy deficit. In line with this view, the metabolic status of an organism predicts sensitivity to ghrelin, with fasting increasing and obesity decreasing ghrelin sensitivity. However, the mechanism responsible for controlling this sensitivity is unknown. In this issue of the JCI, Mani and colleagues show that plasma levels of plasma liver-enriched antimicrobial peptide-2 (LEAP2), a recently identified hormone that antagonizes the ghrelin receptor, are inversely correlated with those of plasma acyl-ghrelin under conditions of both energy deficit and energy surplus in mice and humans. Their results show that a fall in plasma LEAP2 during energy deficit facilitates the actions of acyl-ghrelin, whereas increased LEAP2 in obesity suppresses the actions of acyl-ghrelin. This important discovery helps reshape our understanding of ghrelin function and may provide a new approach to aiding weight maintenance after diet-induced weight loss.
Zane B. Andrews