Use of somatostatin analogues in obesity

Drugs. 2008;68(14):1963-73. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200868140-00003.


Obesity is a condition that results from dysregulation of energy balance. Insulin, a component of the efferent pathway of the energy-regulatory circuit, promotes storage of energy substrates in adipose tissue and is, therefore, a potential target for pharmacotherapy. Somatostatin and its analogues (octreotide and lanreotide) bind to somatostatin subtype 5 receptors on the beta-cell membrane, which limits insulin release and, consequently, may decrease adipogenesis. Somatostatin and its analogues have been used in trials in patients with paediatric hypothalamic obesity. These children have hypothalamic dysfunction, mainly due to brain tumours such as craniopharyngiomas, which are thought to generate increased vagal output, leading to hyperinsulinaemia and weight gain. Two small trials, each of 6 months' duration, in children with paediatric hypothalamic obesity showed either a minimal weight loss or stabilization of bodyweight. In children with Prader-Willi syndrome, the most common genetic hypothalamic disorder associated with hyperphagia, hyperghrelinaemia, massive obesity and other endocrine disturbances, somatostatin failed to control hyperphagia and weight gain in a small number of patients, although it lowered the levels of the anorexigenic hormone ghrelin. Long-acting release octreotide was recently used in hyperinsulinaemic obese adults without cranial pathology. Insulin suppression was associated with small decreases in the body mass indexes of obese subjects receiving the higher dosages of the drug, with an acceptable safety profile, similar to that in previous studies. In conclusion, somatostatin and its analogues, by suppressing beta-cell insulin secretion, can retard weight gain in children with hypothalamic obesity and induce a small amount of weight loss in some adults with hyperinsulinaemic obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Hormone Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Hormone Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamic Diseases / complications
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome
  • Somatostatin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Somatostatin / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Hormone Antagonists
  • Somatostatin