Endogenous and exogenous glucocorticoids decrease plasma ghrelin in humans.

Abstract:

OBJECTIVE:The orexigenic and adipogenic peptide hormone ghrelin is predominantly produced and secreted by the stomach and seems to transduce changes in food intake to specific neuronal circuits in the brain. The activity of ghrelin also includes stimulatory effects on the corticotropic system. However, little is known about the influence of glucocorticoids on ghrelin levels. We therefore studied human plasma ghrelin levels in the presence and absence of elevated glucocorticoid levels of either endogenous or exogenous origin. METHODS:Plasma ghrelin levels were measured in five patients with chronic hypercortisolism (aged 29-58, median 46 years) due to Cushing's syndrome before and after successful surgery for the adenoma, and in eight healthy controls (aged 24-39, median 27.5 years) before and after 30 mg prednisolone (for 5 days) once a day in the morning (median body mass index (BMI) 22.7 kg/m(2)). Plasma ghrelin levels were measured with a commercially available radioimmunoassay. RESULTS:In patients with Cushing's syndrome, plasma ghrelin levels were low (median 363.2 pg/ml, range 161.9-525.7 pg/ml) and significantly increased by 26.6% (P=0.04) after successful surgery, while BMI decreased (median 26.2-24.0 kg/m(2), P=0.04). A strong negative correlation (r=-0.9, P=0.04) between changes in BMI and plasma ghrelin was observed. In healthy controls, plasma ghrelin levels (median 288.7 pg/ml, range 119.6-827.8 pg/ml) were significantly suppressed by 18.3% (P=0.04) after prednisolone treatment. CONCLUSIONS:We have shown for the first time that plasma ghrelin levels are decreased under endogenously or exogenously induced hypercortisolism, making ghrelin an unlikely candidate for causing the changes in energy balance or body composition characteristic of Cushing's disease. However, the reduced ghrelin secretion could reflect a compensation mechanism in reaction to the metabolic consequences of chronic hypercortisolism.

journal_name

Eur J Endocrinol

authors

Otto B,Tschöp M,Heldwein W,Pfeiffer AF,Diederich S

doi

10.1530/eje.0.1510113

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

2004-07-01 00:00:00

pages

113-7

issue

1

eissn

0804-4643

issn

1479-683X

journal_volume

151

pub_type

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