The aim of the study was to determine whether ghrelin treatment has a protective effect on gene expression and biochemical changes in the stomach of newborn streptozotocin (STZ) induced diabetic rats. In this study, four groups of Wistar rats were used: control, ghrelin control, diabetic and diabetic + ghrelin. The rats were sacrificed after four weeks of treatment for diabetes. The gene expressions of: somatostatin, cholecystokinin, apelin and the altered active caspase-3, active caspase-8, proliferating cell nuclear antigen, were investigated in the pyloric region of the stomach and antioxidant parameters were measured in all the stomach. Although ghrelin treatment to diabetic rats lowered the stomach lipid peroxidation levels, the stomach glutathione levels were increased. Exogenous ghrelin caused an increased activities of stomach catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione reductase and glutathione peroxidase in diabetic rats. Numbers of somatostatin, cholecystokinin and proliferating cell nuclear antigen immunoreactive cells decreased in the diabetic + ghrelin group compared to the diabetic group. Apelin mRNA expressions were remarkably less in the diabetic + ghrelin rats than in diabetic rats. The results may indicate that ghrelin treatment has a protective effect to some extent on the diabetic rats. This protection is possibly accomplished through the antioxidant activity of ghrelin observed in type 2 diabetes. Consequently exogenous ghrelin may be a candidate for therapeutic treatment of diabetes. (C) 2013 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.