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Leptin is associated with anxiety in women within a wide range of weight

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Background: The effect of some peripheral hormones as leptin and ghrelin on mood and anxiety in humans is still a matter of discussion. Aims: The aim of our study was to investigate the relationship between leptin, ghrelin levels and severity of psychopathological symptoms of anxiety, depression in female patients within a wide range of weight. Study design: Cross-sectional study.

Methods: A group of 60 female patients across the weight spectrum and 20 healthy age-matched controls were clinically examined. Bioimpedance analysis, Hamilton Rating scales for Anxiety and Depression, hormonal measurements of leptin, desacyl ghrelin, 24 hour urine cortisol and statistical analysis were conducted.

Results: In the patient group, subgroup of 22 females had lost weight (BMI kg m2 16.94+-3.4). Subgroup of 38 females had gained weight (BMI kg m2 31.54+-6.5) and had significantly higher anxiety (14.5+-5.3), depressive (10.37+-4.1) scores, leptin levels (101.06+-39.7 ng ml) and lower ghrelin (161.48+- 58 pg ml) and cortisol levels (78.63+-47.6 nmol 24h) compared to the group with weight reduction and the controls. In the whole study group there was weak inverse correlation between ghrelin levels and anxiety, depressive scores (p < 0.05; r ≈ – 0.25), which became insignificant after controlling for fat mass. Partial correlation between HAM-A scores and leptin levels controlled for the effect of fat mass % was significant (p < 0.05, r = 0.28).

Conclusion: We found that women with higher anxiety scores had higher leptin levels, independently of body fat mass. The role of ghrelin in depression and anxiety remains to be further elucidated.

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