The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of ghrelin treatment on obestatin, insulin gene expression and biochemical parameters in the pancreas of newborn-streptozocin (STZ) diabetic rats. Rats were divided into 4 groups. Group I: control rats treated with physiological saline; group II: control rats treated with 100 mu g/kg/day ghrelin; group III: two days after birth rats that received 100 mg/kg STZ injected as a single dose to induce neonatal diabetes; group IV: neonatal-STZ-diabetic rats treated with ghrelin for four weeks. Sections of the pancreas were examined with immunohistochemistry for the expression of obestatin and insulin and in situ hybridization for the expression of insulin mRNA. The blood glucose levels were measured. Tissue homogenates were used for protein, glutathione, lipid peroxidation and non-enzymatic glycosylation levels and antioxidant enzyme analysis. There was a significant difference in blood glucose levels in newborn-STZ-diabetic rats compared to ghrelin treated diabetic rats at weeks 1, 2 and 4. In group IV, pancreatic non-enzymatic glycosylation and lipid peroxidation levels were decreased, however, glutathione levels and enzymatic activities were increased. Insulin peptide and mRNA (+) signals in islets of Langerhans and obestatin immunopositive cell numbers showed an increase in group IV compared to group III. These results suggest that administration of ghrelin to newborn rats may prevent effects of diabetes. (C) 2011 Published by Elsevier GmbH.