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PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e45748. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045748. Epub 2012 Sep 27.

Serum acylated ghrelin concentrations in response to short-term overfeeding in normal weight, overweight, and obese men.

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Division of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.



Ghrelin, an orexigenic gut hormone secreted primarily from the stomach, is involved in energy homeostasis. However, little data is available regarding its response to energy surplus and the development of human obesity.


The present study investigated the response of circulating acylated ghrelin to a 7-day positive energy challenge.


A total of 68 healthy young men were overfed 70% more calories than required, for 1-week. Subjects were classified based on percent body fat (measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) as normal weight, overweight, and obese. Serum acylated ghrelin concentration was measured before and after the positive energy challenge. Additionally, the relationship between acylated ghrelin and obesity-related phenotypes including weight, body mass index, percent body fat, cholesterol, HDL-c, LDL-c, glucose, insulin and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance and β-cell function at baseline and change due to overfeeding, were assessed.


Contrary to our expectations, serum acylated ghrelin was significantly increased in response to overfeeding and the increase was independent of obesity status. There was no significant difference in fasting acylated ghrelin between normal weight, overweight, and obese men at baseline. Acylated ghrelin was negatively correlated with weight and BMI for normal weight and with BMI in overweight men. Also ghrelin was correlated with change in weight and BMI in overweight (negative relationship) and obese (positive relationship) groups.


Our results showed that circulating acylated ghrelin was increased after a 7-day positive energy challenge regardless of adiposity status. However, acylated ghrelin was correlated with change in weight and BMI in opposing directions, in overweight and obese subjects respectively, thus dependent on obesity status.

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