The pituitary response to ovine corticotropin-releasing hormone is enhanced in obese men and correlates with insulin resistance

Horm Metab Res. 2001 Jan;33(1):39-43. doi: 10.1055/s-2001-12625.


Hyperactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in central obesity has been demonstrated in women. We studied the corticotropin (ACTH) and cortisol response to ovine corticotropin releasing hormone (oCRH) and its association to parameters of adiposity and insulin resistance in a group of 19 healthy obese (BMI > 25 kg/m2) and 9 non-obese men. Relative insulin resistance was assessed by the homeostatic model assessment (HOMA IR). Baseline ACTH was similar, while cortisol was lower in the obese group. The ACTH response to oCRH was significantly higher in the obese group. ACTH incremental area under the curve (iAUC) correlated with age, HOMA IR, and sagittal diameter but not with leptin. In multiple regression analysis, only HOMA IR was an independent predictor of ACTH iAUC. In conclusion, obese men have hyperactivity of the HPA axis at the pituitary level, which appears to be linked to insulin resistance.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / pharmacology*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Morbid / blood*
  • Pituitary Gland / drug effects*
  • Sheep


  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone