Increased levels of an appetite-suppressing hormone called peptide YY are elevated in adolescent girls with anorexia, a team of Boston-based researchers report.
Peptide YY is a hormone released by the gut in response to a recently consumed meal. The more calories the meal contains, the more peptide YY is released. The hormone then travels to the brain where it works to reduce appetite.
“The relationship between central nervous system and (gut) peptides and appetite regulation is an emerging and important area of investigation,” senior investigator Dr. Anne Klibanski of Massachusetts General Hospital told.
In rodents as well as in obese adults, peptide YY administration decreases food intake. The researchers hypothesized that peptide YY might be elevated in patients with anorexia. To investigate, they studied 23 girls with anorexia and 21 healthy girls between 12 and 18 years old.
Levels of peptide YY were significantly higher in the anorexic girls than in their healthy counterparts, according to the report in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Moreover, weight gain in the anorexic girls was associated with a drop in peptide YY levels.
Klibanski noted that “the finding of increased peptide YY levels in anorexia nervosa raises many questions regarding underlying (nerve and hormone) abnormalities in patients with this disease.”
Whether these abnormalities are a response to the disease or are part of its cause, she added, “remains to be determined.”