Theodoropoulou, A., Psyrogiannis, A., Metallinos, I.C. et al. J Endocrinol Invest (2009) 32: 94. doi:10.1007/BF03345693
Hyperthyroidism is characterized by hyperphagia and increased basal metabolic rate. Ghrelin peptide is implicated in food intake through activation of the orexigenic neuropeptide Y/agouti related protein in the arcuate nucleus of hypothalamus. Also different studies suggested that ghrelin might play a role in states of energy insufficiency, controlling body weight. We therefore evaluate ghrelin levels in severe hyperthyroidism before and after medical treatment when euthyroidism was achieved, in order to evaluate its possible role in the increase of apettite and in the metabolic changes observed in hyperthyroidism. Serum ghrelin and insulin levels were measured after an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), in 7 severe hyperthyroid female patients, before and after medical treatment when euthyroidism was achieved. Body mass index (BMI), percentage of body fat and lean mass was also estimated in hyperthyroidism as well as in euthyroidism. Basal insulin levels were statistically higher in hyperthyroid patients with respect to euthyroid state after treatment (p=0.02, t=3.379), while homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) index for insulin sensitivity was statistically higher in hyperthyroidism (group 1) compared to euthyroidism (group 2) (1.64±0.69 vs 0.78±0.44, p=0.019, t=3.389). Fasting ghrelin concentrations were significantly reduced in group 1 compared to group 2 (938±578 pg/ml vs 1402±566 pg/ml, p<0.05, t=−2.489). Oral glucose loading induced suppression of ghrelin level in both groups, but the area under the curve for ghrelin during the OGTT in euthyroidism was greater compared to hyperthyroidism (p=0.05, t=−2.485). After medical treatment, a statistically significant increase in BMI (23.1 ±4.3 vs 25.9±5.1) (p=0.007, t=−4.399) was also observed. In hyperthyroidism, basal ghrelin levels showed a negative correlation with BMI (p=0.042, r=−0.829), insulin (p<0.001, r=−1.000), and HOMA index (p=0.019, r=−0.886). No correlation was found between ghrelin levels and thyroid hormone values. Ghrelin levels are decreased in hyperthyroidism and increase when euthyroidism is achieved. BMI and insulin are the main factors that influence ghrelin concentration in hyperthyroidism. T3 and T4 levels do not influence ghrelin levels. There is no evidence that ghrelin is responsible for the increase apetitte seen in hyperthyroidism.