Associations of Circulating Gut Hormone and Adipocytokine Levels with the Spectrum of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

PLoS One. 2015 Oct 27;10(10):e0141410. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0141410. eCollection 2015.


Objective: The pathogenesis of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is complex and poorly understood. We aim to investigate the association of various circulating peptide hormones with heterogenous manifestations of GERD.

Methods: One hundred and four patients that had experienced typical GERD symptoms (heartburn and/or acid regurgitation) for at least 3 episodes per week in the past 3 months were enrolled. All patients received a baseline assessment of symptom severity and frequency with the Reflux Disease Questionnaire and an upper endoscopy to classify GERD into erosive esophagitis (EE, n = 67), non-erosive esophagitis (NE, n = 37), and Barrett's esophagus (BE, n = 8). Fifty asymptomatic subjects with an endoscopically normal esophagus were recruited as the control group. Complete anthropometric measures and blood biochemistry were obtained and fasting serum levels of adipocytokines (adiponectin and leptin) and gut hormones (ghrelin and peptide YY (PYY)) were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in all subjects.

Results: All circulating peptide hormone levels were not statistically different between the GERD and control groups. However, GERD patients appeared to have lower PYY levels [median (25th-75th percentile), 80.1 (49.8-108.3) vs. 99.4 (65.8-131.9) pg/ml, p = 0.057] compared with control subjects. Among the GERD patients, ghrelin levels were inversely associated with the frequency and severity of acid regurgitation. In male GERD patients, EE was associated with significantly higher PYY levels [107.0 (55.0-120.8) vs. 32.8 (28.7-84.5) pg/ml, p = 0.026] but lower adiponectin levels [6.7 (5.6-9.3) vs. 9.9 (9.6-10.6) μg/ml, p = 0.034] than NE. Patients with BE had significantly lower adiponectin levels [6.0 (5.1-9.2) vs. 9.2 (7.1-11.2) μg/ml, p = 0.026] than those without BE.

Conclusions: Humoral derangement of circulating peptide hormones might participate in inflammation and symptom perception in patients suffering from GERD. Further studies to clarify the exact role of these hormones in the pathogenesis of GERD are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / blood
  • Adiponectin / genetics*
  • Adult
  • Barrett Esophagus / blood
  • Barrett Esophagus / genetics*
  • Barrett Esophagus / pathology
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / blood
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / genetics*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / pathology
  • Ghrelin / blood
  • Ghrelin / genetics*
  • Heartburn / pathology
  • Humans
  • Leptin / blood
  • Leptin / genetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peptide YY / blood
  • Peptide YY / genetics*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Adiponectin
  • Ghrelin
  • Leptin
  • Peptide YY

Grants and funding

PHT received research grants from the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH.99-M1434 and NTUH.104-002854) for the present study.