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Behav Brain Res. 2013 Nov 15;257:197-200. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.09.046. Epub 2013 Oct 4.

Direction of post-prandial ghrelin response associated with cortisol response, perceived stress and anxiety, and self-reported coping and hunger in obese women.

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Neurobiology of Aging, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, Graduate school of biomedical sciences, UNT Health Science Center, Fort Worth, United States.


The neurobiological mechanisms modulating stress may share common pathways with appetite regulation and consequent obesity. The orexigenic hormone, ghrelin may moderate anxiety and stress-related eating behavior. This study was designed to investigate humoral (ghrelin, cortisol) and psychological/behavioral characteristics (subjective hunger, anxiety, and stress; eating behavior; coping ability) among obese subjects in a fasting state and after eating a standard meal. Subjects included 18 obese but otherwise healthy adult women. Subjects were divided into two groups based on the relative direction of ghrelin response to a standard meal. A meal mediated suppression in serum ghrelin (post/pre<.94) was defined as a normal ghrelin response (NG) (n=9) and failure to suppress (post/pre>1.0) was designated as faulty ghrelin response (FG) (n=9). Ghrelin and cortisol responses were correlated, r(18)=0.558, p=.016. FG subjects had lower ratings of coping ability [t(2,16)=2.437, p=.027 and higher ratings of hunger cues in the expected direction [t(2,16)=-2.061, p=.056] compared to NG subjects. Meal mediated declines in subjective hunger were observed for both NG [t(1,8)=4.141, p=.003] and FG [t(1,8)=2.718, p=.026]. NG also showed declines in subjective anxiety [t(1,8)=2.977, p=.018], subjective stress [t(1,8)=2.321, p=.049], and cortisol [t(1,8)=4.214, p=.003]. In conclusion, changes in ghrelin, cortisol and selected psychological and behavioral indices are closely associated with one another suggesting that ghrelin may influence stress related eating and thus, the consequent observed relationship among stress, mood and obesity.


Anxiety; Cortisol; Ghrelin; Obesity; Stress

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