Context: A greater decrease in 24-hour energy expenditure (24hEE) during short-term fasting is indicative of a thrifty phenotype.
Objective: As ghrelin and the growth hormone (GH)/insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) axis are implicated in the regulation of energy intake and metabolism, we investigated whether ghrelin, GH, and IGF-1 concentrations mediate the fasting-induced decrease in 24hEE that characterizes thriftiness.
Methods: In 47 healthy individuals, 24hEE was measured in a whole-room indirect calorimeter both during 24-hour eucaloric and fasting conditions. Plasma total ghrelin, GH, and IGF-1 concentrations were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay after an overnight fast the morning before and after each 24-hour session.
Results: During 24-hour fasting, on average 24hEE decreased by 8.0% (P < .001), GH increased by ~5-fold (P < .001), whereas ghrelin (mean +23 pg/mL) and IGF-1 were unchanged (both P ≥ .19) despite a large interindividual variability in ghrelin change (SD 150 pg/mL). Greater fasting-induced increase in ghrelin was associated with a greater decrease in 24hEE during 24-hour fasting (r = -0.42, P = .003), such that individuals who increased ghrelin by 200 pg/mL showed an average decrease in 24hEE by 55 kcal/day.
Conclusion: Short-term fasting induced selective changes in the ghrelin/GH/IGF-1 axis, specifically a ghrelin-independent GH hypersecretion that did not translate into increased IGF-1 concentrations. Greater increase in ghrelin after 24-hour fasting was associated with greater decrease in 24hEE, indicating ghrelin as a novel biomarker of increased energy efficiency of the thrifty phenotype.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00523627.
Keywords: energy expenditure; fasting; ghrelin; growth hormone; thrifty phenotype.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Endocrine Society 2022.