News Briefs: August 2010

Contact: Arlyn G. Riskind
Director, Media Relations
Phone: (301) 941-0240
Email: ariskind@endo-society.org

Aaron Lohr
Manager, Media Relations
Phone: (240) 482-1380
Email: alohr@endo-society.org

1.   Appetite Hormones May Predict Weight Regain after Dieting
2.   High Stress Hormone Levels Linked to Increased Cardiovascular Mortality
3.   New Patient Fact Sheet on Adrenal Insufficiency from The Hormone Foundation

1. Appetite Hormones May Predict Weight Regain after Dieting

Study results may point way to effective weight-loss maintenance

Many people have experienced the frustration that comes with regaining weight that was lost from dieting. According to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), the levels of appetite hormones in the body prior to dieting may serve as a predictor of weight regain after dieting.

“Treating obesity with drugs or dietary programs can be very effective in the short-term, but the long-term success of maintaining the weight lost is usually poor,” said Ana Crujeiras, PhD, of Compejo Hospitalario Universitario de Santiago in Spain and lead author of the study. “Our study sheds light on how the appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin affect weight regain after weight loss. This knowledge could be used as a tool to personalize weight-loss programs that could guarantee success in keeping off the weight.”

In this study, researchers evaluated a group of 104 obese or overweight men and women during an 8-week low-calorie diet and again 32 weeks after treatment. Researchers measured body weight as well as plasma fasting ghrelin, leptin and insulin concentrations before, during and after dieting. They found that subjects with higher plasma leptin and lower ghrelin levels before dieting were more prone to regain weight lost after dieting and that these hormone levels could be proposed as biomarkers for predicting obesity-treatment outcomes.

“We believe this research is of foremost relevance in clinical terms as it may indicate that the outcome of weight therapy may be pre-conditioned,” said Crujeiras. “Furthermore, our findings may provide endocrinology and nutrition professionals a tool to identify individuals in need of specialized weight-loss programs that first target appetite hormone levels before beginning conventional dietary treatment.”

Other researchers working on the study include: Estíbaliz Goyenechea, Itziar Abete and J. Alfredo Martínez of the University of Navarra in Spain; and Mary Lage, Marcos Carreira and Felipe Casanueva of Compejo Hospitalario Universitario de Santiago in Spain. Both research groups belong to the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de la Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBERobn), an Instituto de Salud Carlos III iniciative.

The article, “Weight regain after a diet-induced loss is predicted by higher baseline leptin and lower ghrelin plasma levels,” will appear in the November 2010 issue of JCEM.

2.  High Stress Hormone Levels Linked to Increased Cardiovascular Mortality

Study suggests high cortisol levels may be harmful to cardiovascular system

High levels of the stress hormone cortisol strongly predict cardiovascular death among both persons with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease according to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

In stressful situations, the body responds by producing the hormone cortisol. The effects of cortisol are intended to help the body recover from stress and regain a status of homeostasis, however chronically elevated cortisol levels have been associated with cardiovascular risk factors, such as the metabolic syndrome and accelerated atherosclerosis.

“Previous studies have suggested that cortisol might increase the risk of cardiovascular mortality, but until now, no study had directly tested this hypothesis,” said Nicole Vogelzangs, PhD, of VU University Medical Center in The Netherlands and lead author of the study. “The results of our study clearly show that cortisol levels in a general older population predict cardiovascular death, but not other causes of mortality.”

In this study, researchers evaluated 861 people aged 65 years and older who participated in a prospective cohort study. Within six years of the beginning of the study 183 participants had died. Urinary cortisol levels of subjects were measured at the beginning of the study and cause of death was ascertained from death certificates. Researchers found that urinary cortisol did not increase the risk of non-cardiovascular mortality but did increase cardiovascular mortality risk. The third of the subjects with the highest urinary cortisol had a five-fold increased risk of dying of cardiovascular disease.

“Cortisol is an important component of the stress system of the human body but in higher concentrations can be harmful,” said Vogelzangs. “Our study shows that older persons with high levels of cortisol have an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. This finding significantly adds evidence to the belief that cortisol can be damaging to the cardiovascular system.”

Other researchers working on the study include: Aartjan Beekman and Brenda Penninx of VU University Medical Center in The Netherlands; Yuri Milaneschi and Luigi Ferrucci of the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, Md.; and Stefania Bandinelli of Azienda Sanitaria Firenze in Italy.

The article, “Urinary cortisol and six-year risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality,” will appear in the November 2010 issue of JCEM.

3. New Patient Fact Sheet on Adrenal Insufficiency from The Hormone Foundation

The latest fact sheet in The Hormone Foundation’s bilingual (English/Spanish) series defines primary and secondary adrenal insufficiency and describes the causes of each.  The fact sheet identifies symptoms of adrenal insufficiency in general and adrenal crisis in particular.  Diagnosis, treatment, and preparing for an emergency are also covered.

The patient fact sheet is available at http://www.hormone.org/Resources/upload/adrenal-insufficiency-bilingual-081810.pdf.