Ghrelin is the endogenous ligand for the growth hormone secretagogue receptor, and has been found in the liver of multiple vertebrates. While ghrelin has been identified in the gastrointestinal tract of African ostrich chicks, little is known regarding its distribution in the liver of the African ostrich. In the present study, the distribution and morphological characteristics of ghrelin-immunopositive (ghrelin-ip) cells in the liver of the African ostrich were investigated using immunohistochemistry. Our results indicate that the liver is divided into two sections: the capsule and the parenchyma, which comprises hepatic lobules and the hepatic portal area. The hepatic lobules include the central vein, hepatocellular cord, and the hepatic sinusoid. The hepatocellular cord is composed of hepatocytes, and Macrophagocytus stellatus (Kupffer cells) as well as endothelial cells reside within the hepatic sinusoid. ghrelin-ip cells were detected among both the Macrophagocytus stellatus and endothelial cells of the hepatic sinusoid in the African ostrich liver. In contrast, no ghrelin- ip cells were located within the hepatocytes or the hepatic portal area. These results clearly demonstrated the presence of ghrelin-ip cells in the liver of the African ostrich. Therefore, ghrelin may have a physiological function in the liver of the African ostrich.
KEY WORDS: African ostrich; Ghrelin; Liver; Immunohistochemistry.