Another consistent observation in our studies was the lower
Another consistent observation in our studies was the lower plasma catecholamine concentrations in the exercised GHSR-null mice, suggesting a diminished sympathoadrenal response. A proper sympathoadrenal response is essential for increasing substrate utilization during exercise . Thus, the reduced sympathoadrenal response in GHSR-nulls could contribute to the reduced endurance.
GHSR deletion could also reduce exercise endurance via loss of ghrelin's actions to stimulate the GH axis or via loss of ghrelin's more direct effects on skeletal muscle strength. Not only is the well-characterized downstream effector of GH action, IGF-1, known to reduce exercise-induced skeletal muscle damage and soreness , , , but also IGF-1 levels were lower in GHSR-null mice. Ghrelin also may have more direct skeletal muscle-preserving and muscle strength-promoting actions during exercise. These effects presumably would mirror those of ghrelin demonstrated in several preclinical cachexia and muscle atrophy models and in cachectic patients with heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , , , , , . Notably, in a mouse model of chronic kidney disease, ghrelin administration was shown not only to improve muscle strength and to increase skeletal muscle mitochondria-related gene expression but also to improve exercise endurance , . Many details regarding these latter effects of ghrelin remain unclear; interestingly, both the acyl and unacyl forms of ghrelin have been shown to mediate some of these effects ,  and GHSR expression has been detected in skeletal muscle in some but not all studies , , , , .
The reduced exercise endurance that we observe here in GHSR-nulls contrasts with an increase in exercise endurance reported in a recent study using ghrelin-knockout mice . Notable differences that might help explain these divergent results include age of mice (6–9 months-of-age and 21–24 months-of age as compared to the 2.5–4 month-old mice studied here) and intensity of exercise protocol (a high intensity endurance protocol incorporating relatively rapid increases in the treadmill speed as well as a 10° incline, leading to exhaustion before 20 min as compared to the less intense progressive endurance protocol without an incline used here, in which exhaustion was not reached until after 90 min and was associated with depletion of glycogen stores). The difference in genotype between the two studies also should not be underestimated, as loss of acyl-ghrelin-independent GHSR activity in GHSR-null mice vs. loss of desacyl-ghrelin-dependent effects in ghrelin-knockout mice potentially could differentially influence the responses to exercise of those models .
In the current study, we did not examine the potential impact of ghrelin action in the Oxytocin as it might relate to exercise endurance. Previously, the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) was identified as a key brain region required for normal exercise endurance capacity , . The VMH is a well-known site of GHSR expression and ghrelin action , , and thus it is possible that ghrelin might act via the VMH or another CNS site of GHSR expression to exact its effects on exercise endurance. Neither did we assess in the current study the possible contribution of ghrelin's known actions to increase the force of cardiac contraction thus increasing stroke volume , erythrocyte number, and hemoglobin level , or vasodilation and blood flow  to its effects on exercise endurance – although all are possible.
Conclusions In summary, our studies suggest that the endogenous ghrelin system is essential for exercise endurance and for the usual food intake response to exercise. From an evolutionary perspective, the ghrelin system's enhancement of exercise endurance might have evolved as a means to prolong locomotor activity thus potentially facilitating evasion of predators and food procurement especially. This concept is broadly in line with the notion of ghrelin action as an adaptation to counter metabolically and behaviorally stressful environments and to increase the likelihood of survival . Previously, roles for ghrelin in engaging other types of locomotor activity have been described, including stimulation of food anticipatory behavior, spontaneous physical activity, and cocaine hyperlocomotion , , , , , , . In modern society, where exercise training is one of the most effective strategies to counter the rising incidence of metabolic syndrome via enhanced insulin sensitivity, improved cardiovascular function, and beneficial changes in body composition , , the ghrelin system may play an important role in regulating the capacity to perform high intensity exercise while also influencing the metabolic outcome of exercise by modulating food intake. Further studies are required to understand the impact of some of the processes suggested here by which ghrelin could enhance exercise endurance, such as an enhanced sympathoadrenal response, elevated plasma IGF-1 levels, altered lactate metabolism and glycogen utilization, as well as direct effects on skeletal muscle contractility, CNS action, and cardiac function. Given the marked decrease in food intake in GHSR-null mice observed here following the HIIE exercise bout, while also keeping in mind their reduced exercise endurance, we believe it would be meritorious to investigate the pros and cons of using GHSR antagonists as an adjunctive therapy to the commonly-recommended treatment plan consisting of dietary intervention plus exercise that forms the mainstay of most current weight loss regimens.