Histochemistry and Cell Biology

, Volume 139, Issue 6, pp 909–918 | Cite as

Ghrelin and NUCB2/nesfatin-1 are expressed in the same gastric cell and differentially correlated with body mass index in obese subjects

  • Andreas Stengel
  • Tobias Hofmann
  • Miriam Goebel-Stengel
  • Vanessa Lembke
  • Anne Ahnis
  • Ulf Elbelt
  • Nils W. G. Lambrecht
  • Jürgen Ordemann
  • Burghard F. Klapp
  • Peter KobeltEmail author
Short Communication


The orexigenic peptide ghrelin and the anorexigenic peptide nesfatin-1 are expressed by the same endocrine cell of the rat stomach, the X/A-like cell. However, data in humans are lacking, especially under conditions of obesity. We collected gastric tissue of obese patients undergoing sleeve gastrectomy and investigated the expression of nesfatin-1 and ghrelin in the gastric oxyntic mucosa by immunofluorescence. Nesfatin-1 immunoreactivity was detected in the human oxyntic mucosa in cells with an endocrine phenotype. A major portion of nesfatin-1 immunoreactive cells (78 %) co-localized with ghrelin indicating the occurrence in human X/A-like cells. In patients with very high body mass index (BMI 55–65 kg/m2), the number of nesfatin-1 immunoreactive cells/low-power field was significantly higher than in obese patients with lower BMI (40–50 kg/m2, 118 ± 10 vs. 82 ± 11, p < 0.05). On the other hand, the number of ghrelin immunoreactive cells was significantly reduced in obese patients with higher compared to lower BMI (96 ± 12 vs. 204 ± 21, p < 0.01). Also the ghrelin-acylating enzyme ghrelin-O-acyltransferase decreased with increasing BMI. In conclusion, nesfatin-1 immunoreactivity is also co-localized with ghrelin in human gastric X/A-like cells giving rise to a dual role of this cell type with differential effects on stimulation and inhibition of appetite dependent on the peptide released. The expression of these two peptides is differentially regulated under obese conditions with an increase of nesfatin-1 and a decrease of ghrelin immunoreactivity with rising BMI pointing towards an adaptive change of expression that may counteract further body weight increase.


Bariatric surgery GOAT Hormone Nesfatin-1 Stomach X/A-like cell 



Body mass index







We are grateful to Reinhard Lommel for technical support. We thank the Robert Koch-Institute in Berlin for access to the cLSM 510 Meta. This work was supported by grants from the German Research Foundation to Peter Kobelt (KO 3864/2-1) and Andreas Stengel (STE 1765/3-1), from the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin (UFF 11/45018) to Peter Kobelt and from the Sonnenfeld-Stiftung Berlin to Peter Kobelt and Andreas Stengel.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Stengel
    • 1
  • Tobias Hofmann
    • 1
  • Miriam Goebel-Stengel
    • 2
  • Vanessa Lembke
    • 1
  • Anne Ahnis
    • 1
  • Ulf Elbelt
    • 3
  • Nils W. G. Lambrecht
    • 4
  • Jürgen Ordemann
    • 5
  • Burghard F. Klapp
    • 1
  • Peter Kobelt
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Charité Center for Internal Medicine and Dermatology, Division Psychosomatic Medicine, Obesity Center BerlinCharité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus MitteBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of Internal Medicine, Institute of Neurogastroenterology and MotilityMartin-Luther Hospital, Academic Teaching Institution of Charité-UniversitätsmedizinBerlinGermany
  3. 3. Division Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, Diabetes and Nutrition, Obesity Center BerlinCharité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus MitteBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Gastrointestinal EndocrinologyVeterans Affairs Long Beach Healthcare SystemLong BeachUSA
  5. 5.Center for Obesity and Metabolic SurgeryCharité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus MitteBerlinGermany

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