Ghrelin, a newly discovered bioactive peptide, was originally reported to induce growth hormone release. Recent studies have shown beneficial hemodynamic effects of ghrelin in the cardiovascular system to support the wide distribution of its receptors in cardiovascular tissues. The aim of the study was to determine whether cardiovascular risk factors influence plasma ghrelin levels.
Methods. We evaluated in the Rehabilitation Hospital Cluj-Napoca, Cardiology - Department 88 consecutive subjects, 65 (73.86%) being women, with mean age 61.7±10.33 years. We assessed the presence of cardiovascular risk factors (obesity, arterial hypertension, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, smoking and lipid fractions). Plasma ghrelin levels were determined with a commercial ELISA kit (pg/ml).
Results. After the evaluation of cardiovascular risk factors, we found no statistically significant difference between ghrelin levels in the patients with vs those without cardiovascular risk factors (p>0.05). A negative correlation was found between ghrelin levels and age, r = −0.32 (p <0.05). Using the HeartScore Internet tool we calculated the cardiovascular risk for each patient according to the risk score system (SCORE) for high cardiovascular risk countries. Statistically, the risk of fatal cardiovascular events in the next 10 years was indirectly correlated with the ghrelin levels in each patient - correlation between ghrelin levels and SCORE system r=−0.25, p=0.015. In conclusion, low serum ghrelin concentrations are associated with an increased global cardiovascular risk, calculated based on the European SCORE scale. However, we could not demonstrate a direct relationship between any of the major risk factors and ghrelin.
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