Serum ghrelin levels are inversely correlated with body mass index, age, and insulin concentrations in normal children and are markedly increased in Prader-Willi Syndrome

Andrea M. Haqq, I. Sadaf Farooqi, Stephen O'Rahilly, Diane D. Stadler, Ron G. Rosenfeld, Katherine L. Pratt, Stephen H. LaFranchi, Jonathan Q. Purnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

329 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ghrelin, an endogenous ligand of the GH secretagogue receptor, stimulates appetite and causes obesity in animal models and in humans when given in pharmacologic doses. Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is a genetic obesity syndrome characterized by GH deficiency and the onset of a voracious appetite and obesity in childhood. We, therefore, hypothesized that ghrelin levels may play a role in the expression of obesity in this syndrome. We measured fasting serum ghrelin levels in 13 PWS children with an average age of 9.5 yr (range, 5-15) and body mass index (BMI) of 31.3 kg/m2 (range, 22-46). The PWS group was compared with 4 control groups: 20 normal weight controls matched for age and sex, 17 obese children (OC), and 14 children with melanocortin-4 receptor mutations (MC4) matched for age, sex, and BMI, and a group of 3 children with leptin deficiency (OB). In non-PWS subjects, ghrelin levels were inversely correlated with age (r = 0.36, P = 0.007), insulin (r = 0.55, P < 0.001), and BMI (r = 0.62, P < 0.001), but not leptin. In children with PWS, fasting ghrelin concentrations were not significantly different compared with normal weight controls (mean ± SD; 429 ± 374 vs. 270 ± 102 pmol/liter; P = 0.14). However, children with PWS did demonstrate higher fasting ghrelin concentrations (3- to 4-fold elevation) compared with all obese groups (OC, MC4, OB) (mean ± SD; 429 ± 374 vs. 139 ± 70 pmol/liter; P < 0.001). In conclusion, ghrelin levels in children with PWS are significantly elevated (3- to 4-fold) compared with BMI-matched obese controls (OC, MC4, OB). Elevation of serum ghrelin levels to the degree documented in this study may play a role as an orexigenic factor driving the insatiable appetite and obesity found in PWS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-178
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Volume88
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical

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