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Vol. 282, Issue 2, E366-E369, February 2002

Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in the night eating syndrome

Grethe S. Birketvedt1, Johan Sundsfjord2, and Jon R. Florholmen1

1 Institute of Clinical Medicine and 2 Department of Clinical Chemistry, University of Tromsų, 9037 Tromsų, Norway

The typical neuroendocrine characteristics of the night eating syndrome have previously been described as changes in the circadian rhythm by an attenuation in the nocturnal rise of the plasma concentrations of melatonin and leptin and an increased circadian secretion of cortisol. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that night eaters have an overexpressed hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis with an attenuated response to stress. Five female subjects with the night-eating syndrome and five sex-, age-, and weight-matched controls performed a 120-min corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) test (100 µg iv). Blood samples were drawn intravenously for measurements of the plasma concentrations of ACTH and cortisol. The results showed that, in night eaters compared with controls, the CRH-induced ACTH and cortisol response was significantly decreased to 47 and 71%, respectively. In conclusion, disturbances in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis with an attenuated ACTH and cortisol response to CRH were found in subjects with night-eating syndrome.

circadian rhythm; cortisol; leptin; melatonin