Weight loss increases circulating levels of ghrelin in human obesity

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2002 Feb;56(2):203-6. doi: 10.1046/j.0300-0664.2001.01456.x.


Objective: Ghrelin, a novel endogenous ligand for the GH secretagogue receptor, has been reported to have adipogenic actions and induce weight gain in addition to its GH-releasing properties. Interestingly, recent data indicate that ghrelin is downregulated in human obesity, which is also known to be accompanied by reduced GH levels.

Patients and methods: To investigate the influence of weight loss on circulating levels of ghrelin we recruited eight obese women among patients attending a 6-month weight-loss course organized by The Danish Heart Association. We measured body composition including computerized tomography as well as fasting plasma ghrelin concentrations before and after weight loss.

Results: Plasma ghrelin concentrations increased by 12% following weight loss (P < 0.01), and the increase in ghrelin levels was positively correlated with the extent of weight loss (r = 0.68, P < 0.05). Exposure to exogenous GH intravenously did not influence fasting ghrelin levels either before or after weight loss. Our data further suggest the existence of hyperghrelinaemia in a single subject with long-standing obesity but no signs of GH excess.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence of a reversible suppression of ghrelin associated with obesity. The feasibility of measuring ghrelin in the circulation provides a new tool for the investigation of the complex hormonal regulation of appetite and energy balance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Composition
  • Female
  • Ghrelin
  • Growth Hormone
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Peptide Hormones*
  • Peptides / blood*
  • Weight Loss*


  • Ghrelin
  • Peptide Hormones
  • Peptides
  • Growth Hormone