The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis in the regulation of energy balance

Arie G Nieuwenhuizen, Femke Rutters

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Human (visceral) obesity is associated with alterations hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning. It is however not completely clear whether the HPA axis is causally or co-incidentally related to (visceral) obesity. This review summarizes supporting data of an involvement of the HPA axis in the development of (visceral) obesity. First, several DNA polymorphisms related to HPA axis functioning are correlated to the development of obesity. Second, chronic elevation of circulatory glucocorticoid concentrations, as in Cushing's disease, results in increased abdominal adiposity. Third, (visceral) obesity is associated with a diminished capacity of cortisol to suppress its own secretion. HPA axis functioning might affect energy balance through affecting energy intake. Both CRH and cortisol influence physiological, central mechanisms involved in the regulation of food intake. Still, general activation of the HPA axis has shown to have inconsistent effects on food intake in humans. This inconsistency may partially be explained by gender differences, individual differences in the functioning of the HPA axis, as well as differences in attitude towards eating. In particular, women with high scores on dietary restraint are prone to stress-induced hyperphagia. Dietary restraint scores, in turn, are positively correlated to basal and dexamethasone-suppressed cortisol levels, indicating a complex dual relationship between stress, HPA axis functioning, attitude towards eating and the risk for stress-induced hyperphagia. In the Western society, with chronically high ambient levels of stress and the availability of high caloric foods, this relationship may imply a risk for the development of (visceral) obesity and the metabolic syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-77
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Volume94
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2008

Cite this

@article{eb377c493c5f496cbc6686e04ce46157,
title = "The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis in the regulation of energy balance",
abstract = "Human (visceral) obesity is associated with alterations hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning. It is however not completely clear whether the HPA axis is causally or co-incidentally related to (visceral) obesity. This review summarizes supporting data of an involvement of the HPA axis in the development of (visceral) obesity. First, several DNA polymorphisms related to HPA axis functioning are correlated to the development of obesity. Second, chronic elevation of circulatory glucocorticoid concentrations, as in Cushing's disease, results in increased abdominal adiposity. Third, (visceral) obesity is associated with a diminished capacity of cortisol to suppress its own secretion. HPA axis functioning might affect energy balance through affecting energy intake. Both CRH and cortisol influence physiological, central mechanisms involved in the regulation of food intake. Still, general activation of the HPA axis has shown to have inconsistent effects on food intake in humans. This inconsistency may partially be explained by gender differences, individual differences in the functioning of the HPA axis, as well as differences in attitude towards eating. In particular, women with high scores on dietary restraint are prone to stress-induced hyperphagia. Dietary restraint scores, in turn, are positively correlated to basal and dexamethasone-suppressed cortisol levels, indicating a complex dual relationship between stress, HPA axis functioning, attitude towards eating and the risk for stress-induced hyperphagia. In the Western society, with chronically high ambient levels of stress and the availability of high caloric foods, this relationship may imply a risk for the development of (visceral) obesity and the metabolic syndrome.",
keywords = "Adiposity/physiology, Diet, Energy Metabolism/physiology, Humans, Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System/physiology, Obesity/physiopathology, Pituitary-Adrenal System/physiology",
author = "Nieuwenhuizen, {Arie G} and Femke Rutters",
year = "2008",
month = "5",
day = "23",
doi = "10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.12.011",
language = "English",
volume = "94",
pages = "169--77",
journal = "Physiology and Behavior",
issn = "0031-9384",
publisher = "Elsevier Inc.",
number = "2",

}

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis in the regulation of energy balance. / Nieuwenhuizen, Arie G; Rutters, Femke.

In: Physiology and Behavior, Vol. 94, No. 2, 23.05.2008, p. 169-77.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis in the regulation of energy balance

AU - Nieuwenhuizen, Arie G

AU - Rutters, Femke

PY - 2008/5/23

Y1 - 2008/5/23

N2 - Human (visceral) obesity is associated with alterations hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning. It is however not completely clear whether the HPA axis is causally or co-incidentally related to (visceral) obesity. This review summarizes supporting data of an involvement of the HPA axis in the development of (visceral) obesity. First, several DNA polymorphisms related to HPA axis functioning are correlated to the development of obesity. Second, chronic elevation of circulatory glucocorticoid concentrations, as in Cushing's disease, results in increased abdominal adiposity. Third, (visceral) obesity is associated with a diminished capacity of cortisol to suppress its own secretion. HPA axis functioning might affect energy balance through affecting energy intake. Both CRH and cortisol influence physiological, central mechanisms involved in the regulation of food intake. Still, general activation of the HPA axis has shown to have inconsistent effects on food intake in humans. This inconsistency may partially be explained by gender differences, individual differences in the functioning of the HPA axis, as well as differences in attitude towards eating. In particular, women with high scores on dietary restraint are prone to stress-induced hyperphagia. Dietary restraint scores, in turn, are positively correlated to basal and dexamethasone-suppressed cortisol levels, indicating a complex dual relationship between stress, HPA axis functioning, attitude towards eating and the risk for stress-induced hyperphagia. In the Western society, with chronically high ambient levels of stress and the availability of high caloric foods, this relationship may imply a risk for the development of (visceral) obesity and the metabolic syndrome.

AB - Human (visceral) obesity is associated with alterations hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning. It is however not completely clear whether the HPA axis is causally or co-incidentally related to (visceral) obesity. This review summarizes supporting data of an involvement of the HPA axis in the development of (visceral) obesity. First, several DNA polymorphisms related to HPA axis functioning are correlated to the development of obesity. Second, chronic elevation of circulatory glucocorticoid concentrations, as in Cushing's disease, results in increased abdominal adiposity. Third, (visceral) obesity is associated with a diminished capacity of cortisol to suppress its own secretion. HPA axis functioning might affect energy balance through affecting energy intake. Both CRH and cortisol influence physiological, central mechanisms involved in the regulation of food intake. Still, general activation of the HPA axis has shown to have inconsistent effects on food intake in humans. This inconsistency may partially be explained by gender differences, individual differences in the functioning of the HPA axis, as well as differences in attitude towards eating. In particular, women with high scores on dietary restraint are prone to stress-induced hyperphagia. Dietary restraint scores, in turn, are positively correlated to basal and dexamethasone-suppressed cortisol levels, indicating a complex dual relationship between stress, HPA axis functioning, attitude towards eating and the risk for stress-induced hyperphagia. In the Western society, with chronically high ambient levels of stress and the availability of high caloric foods, this relationship may imply a risk for the development of (visceral) obesity and the metabolic syndrome.

KW - Adiposity/physiology

KW - Diet

KW - Energy Metabolism/physiology

KW - Humans

KW - Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System/physiology

KW - Obesity/physiopathology

KW - Pituitary-Adrenal System/physiology

U2 - 10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.12.011

DO - 10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.12.011

M3 - Review article

VL - 94

SP - 169

EP - 177

JO - Physiology and Behavior

JF - Physiology and Behavior

SN - 0031-9384

IS - 2

ER -