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Med Hypotheses. 2000 Jun;54(6):990-4.

The role of antidepressants in the treatment of abdominal obesity.

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Department of Heart and Lung Diseases, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg, Sweden.


The pathophysiology of abdominal obesity is unclear and controversial. Recent evidence now suggests that inadequate cortisol secretion is associated with abnormalities in glucose, insulin and lipid metabolism, including hypertension, bringing the importance of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in the pathogenesis of abdominal obesity to the forefront. In addition, abnormal gonadal steroid concentrations and impaired plasma growth hormone levels accompany the abdominally obese state. Since the reproductive and growth axes are inhibited at many levels by various components of the HPA axis, increasing cortisol levels results in further depression of testosterone and growth hormone concentrations. Over the last decade, antidepressant (serotoninergic) drugs have proved useful as equalizers of HPA axis hyperactivity. Such therapy may interrupt the vicious circle of a hyperactive HPA axis leading to increasing abdominal obesity and endocrine perturbations that, in turn, leads to progressive accumulation of abdominal fat. Additionally, preliminary results indicate that serotoninergic agents decrease abdominal fat mass with improvements in related risk factors.

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