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Ghrelin, leptin, adiponectin, and insulin levels and concurrent and future weight change in overweight, postmenopausal women

Soni, Amy C. MD1; Conroy, Molly B. MD, MPH2,3; Mackey, Rachel H. PhD, MPH3; Kuller, Lewis H. MD, DrPH3

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3181f2e611
Original Articles

Objective: Weight loss and maintenance can be particularly challenging for postmenopausal women given the changes in body composition, metabolism, and lifestyle that can accompany the menopausal transition. Peptides mediating energy homeostasis (ghrelin, leptin, adiponectin, and insulin) may play an important role in the weight and body composition changes of postmenopausal women and may in turn be affected by hormone therapy (HT) use. This study examines how success with weight loss may be related to peptides mediating energy homeostasis and HT use.

Methods: The present analysis involves 200 women from a lifestyle intervention trial in overweight, postmenopausal women for whom data on the peptides ghrelin, leptin, adiponectin, and insulin were collected at 0 and 18 months. Peptide levels were compared with changes in weight from 0 to 18 and from 18 to 30 months.

Results: Baseline peptide levels were not significantly related to future weight change. From 0 to 18 months, ghrelin (P = 0.0005) and adiponectin (P ≤ 0.0001) levels increased, whereas leptin (P ≤ 0.0001) and insulin (P = 0.0003) levels decreased with increasing amount of weight loss. However, only leptin change was related to 18-30-month weight change. Women who were on HT at 0 months but discontinued by 18 months had a greater increase in ghrelin level from 0 to 18 months compared with women with continuous HT use or nonuse.

Conclusions: In overweight, postmenopausal women, changes in energy homeostasis peptides relate to both concurrent and future weight change. Future studies should continue to address how ghrelin, leptin, insulin, and adiponectin contribute to body composition changes and weight loss maintenance after menopause.

From the 1Department of Medicine, 2Division of General Internal Medicine, and 3Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

Received May 28, 2010; revised and accepted July 15, 2010.

Support/funding: This research was funded by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute contract R01-HL-66468. Dr. Conroy is supported by a National Institutes of Health career development award (5K23HL085405).

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Molly B. Conroy, MD, MPH, Center for Research on Health Care, 230 McKee Place, Suite 600, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. E-mail:

©2011The North American Menopause Society