Endocrine Abstracts (2008) 16 P514

Relationship among stress, weight gain and the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis

Valentina Marconi, Valentina Vicennati, Stefania Corvaglia, Adria Zampighi, Romina Di Agostino & Renato Pasquali


Endocrinology Unit, Bologna, Italy.


The aim of this study was: 1) to determine whether there is a correlation between a stressful event, such as the mourning, the hyperactivity of HPA axis, and the fast weight gain 2) to assess whether there is a specific parameter that can predict the susceptibility of individuals to develop metabolic syndrome following a stressful event. We investigated 80 obese women, aged between 23 and 67 years; each subject underwent a clinical evaluation, an OGTT and biochemical, metabolic, hormonal and inflammatory parameter determinations. To express the amount of time in which weight gain has happened, an arbitrary index called INCR (ratio between weight gain and interval time) was used. Subject were divided into two groups based on the history of their weight increase: the first group, used as controls, included 61 women become obese dynamically, after pregnancy; the second group, called Mourning, however, included 19 women become obese after mourning. The parameter INCR was significanthy different between two groups. There were no significant differences between the groups neither in metabolic profile nor in insulin resistance indices. The Mourning group had significantly higher levels of 24hrs-FCU than the control group. The values of androstenedione were significantly higher in the Mourning group compared with controls. All other hormonal parameters were not significantly different between two groups. This study confirm that women become obese following an acute stress showed an hyperactivation of the HPA axis as documented by higher 24 h-UFC and androstenedione levels, which support the hypothesis that acute stress may be involved in fast weight increase. The lack of difference in metabolic parameters might be due or to the small time of observation or to the small number of subjects. However, 24 h-FCU and androstenedione levels might be considered as predictive parameters of future metabolic alterations.

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