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A Journal on Gastroenterology, Nutrition and Dietetics

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Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica 2001 December;47(4):163-8

language: Italian

Neuroendocrine features of obesity

Ferrari E., Cravello L., Precerutti S., Camozzi D., Ferrari A. A., Magri F.


Background. Hypothalamic abnormalities concerning eating behaviour and some endocrine and autonomic functions are often described in obese subjects, but their role is not so evident. The aim of this study was the simultaneous evaluations of several endocrine functions in obese women.
Methods. A group of 30 young-adult obese women with central fat distribution and 16 normal weight controls have been studied. In each subject the circadian rhythm of oral temperature, melatonin, ACTH, Cortisol, GH and prolactin was simultaneously evaluated , with blood samples withdrawn every 4 hours during the day and every 2 hours during the night.
Results. The mean values of oral temperature were significantly lower in obese women by comparison to normal weight controls. Also the circadian values of plasma melatonin were lower in obese than in controls, but in the former the diurnal melatonin secretion was not completely suppressed. The ciradian profile of serum ACTH and cortisol was similar in the two groups evaluated , while the GH circadian curve was clealry flattened in obese women when compared to controls.
Conclusions. These results agree with the hypothesis of central neurotransmitter abnormalities in primary obesity. In particular, the changes in GH secretion and the reduction of oral temperature suggest the existence of alterations of the central noradrenergic and serotoninergic pathways involved in the regulation of several neuroendocrine functions, such as the pituitary-ganadal one, and in the control of satiety.

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