A new study by a team of researchers from New Zealand’s University of Otago and Japan suggests that the appetite-regulating hormone ghrelin could be used clinically for the early treatment of critical limb ischemia (CLI), an advanced form of peripheral artery disease (PAD).
CLI is the severe obstruction of blood flow to the extremities that often requires major amputations and in half of all cases leads to death within five years. It is characterized by pain at rest, nonhealing ulcers, and gangrene. Its leading risk factors are diabetes, obesity, and age.
Using a mouse model of CLI, Otago Department of Physiology researchers Rajesh Katare, PhD, Daryl Schwenke, PhD, and colleagues showed that administering ghrelin daily over two weeks markedly improved blood flow in affected limbs.
They found that ghrelin promoted growth of new structurally and functionally normal blood vessels, improved cell survival, and decreased tissue fibrosis.
Their research is published in the international journal Endocrinology.
Katare said the findings are exciting as currently there are no drug treatments for CLI and other techniques are effective in only half of the cases.
“Our results provide a platform for future studies to look at the long-term potential of ghrelin to see if it could indeed become a standard treatment for CLI,” Katare said.
This article was adapted from information provided by the University of Otago.