Aim: Dysregulation of the normal levels of ghrelin, leptin and adiponectin in young non-obese subjects could promote food intake, diabetes and cardiovascular disease in later stages of life. Little information is available on how plasmatic concentrations of these hormones may be influenced by eating habits and/or components of energy balance in a young population, which if known, could facilitate their voluntary regulation.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study we examined the predictors of fasting plasma ghrelin, adiponectin and leptin in a population of well-characterized young non-obese women (N = 63). Energy intake was assessed by 24-hour dietary recall, resting metabolic rate (RMR) by indirect calorimetry, physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) by tri-axial accelerometer, physical fitness by VO(2 peak), and eating behaviors by self administrated questionnaire.
Results: Lower RMR and higher HDL-cholesterol were independent predictors of higher plasma ghrelin explaining 17.6% of its variation even after correcting for BMI. Higher total or central fat mass was the only predictor of higher plasma leptin, and no other variable added any power to the prediction equation. Finally, higher energy intake and waist circumference and lower PAEE predicted lower plasma adiponectin in young non-obese women, explaining 43% of the variation in its concentrations even after correcting for total or central fat mass.
Conclusion: Components of the energy balance (ie: energy intake and/or expenditure) influence adiponectin and ghrelin circulating levels. That is, higher energy intake and lower physical activity independently predict lower adiponectin concentrations, whereas lower resting metabolic rate independently predicts higher ghrelin levels in young non-obese women. Prospective studies are needed to examine whether circulating concentrations of ghrelin and adiponectin can be voluntarily regulated by lifestyle interventions.