David H St-Pierre; Antony D Karelis; Katherine Cianflone; Florence Conus; Diane Mignault; Remi Rabasa-Lhoret; Maxime St-Onge; Andréanne Tremblay-Lebeau; Eric T Poehlman
J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 89, 5993 (2004)
Ghrelin is a novel peptide that has been isolated from human and rat stomach tissues. Despite its known stimulatory effects on appetite and eating behavior, little information is available regarding its relationship with energy expenditure in normal-weight humans. To address this issue, we examined the relationship between serum ghrelin and resting metabolic rate (RMR), the thermic effect of food (TEF), fasting and postprandial respiratory quotient, physical activity level, peak aerobic capacity (VO(2 peak)), energy intake, and psychological measures of feeding behavior. We recruited 65 young healthy women and determined RMR and TEF by indirect calorimetry after a 12-h fast. Physical activity was determined by a leisure time physical activity questionnaire; VO(2 peak) was determined by bicycle ergometer test to exhaustion; energy intake was determined by a 24-h dietary recall; and food behavior was determined by a three-factor eating questionnaire. Our cohort showed a broad range of body mass index (range, 16.8-28.3 kg/m2), RMR (range, 820-1550 kcal/d), TEF (range, 74.4-136.5 kcal/d), and percent body fat (range, 14.0-37.7%). We noted significant inverse correlations between ghrelin and RMR (r = -0.350, P = 0.004) and TEF (r = -0.396, P = 0.001). These inverse correlations persisted after statistical control for both fat-free mass and fat mass (ghrelin vs. RMR partial, r = -0.284, P = 0.024; and ghrelin vs. TEF partial, r = -0.329, P = 0.01) and insulin levels (ghrelin vs. RMR partial, r = -0.255, P = 0.046; and ghrelin vs. TEF partial, r = -0.287, P = 0.024) using partial correlation analysis. We also observed a significant inverse correlation between ghrelin and daily caloric intake (r = -0.266, P = 0.032), but ghrelin levels were not significantly correlated with fasting (r = -0.002), postprandial respiratory quotient (r = -0.016), leisure time physical activity (r = 0.104), VO(2 peak) (r = 0.138), dietary disinhibition (r = -0.071), dietary restraint (r = 0.051), or feeling of general hunger (r = -0.028). These results suggest that higher levels of ghrelin are associated with low levels of resting and postprandial thermogenesis, which is independent of individual differences in fat-free mass and fat mass. Although speculative, serum ghrelin may play a role in the regulation of energy homeostasis by acting as a hormonal marker of increased energy efficiency.