In Obesity, HPA axis activity does not increase with BMI, but declines with aging:A meta-analysis of clinical studies

Judit Tenk, Péter Mátrai, Péter Hegyi, Ildikó Rostás, András Garami, Imre Szabó, Margit Solymár, Erika Pétervári, József Czimmer, Katalin Márta, Alexandra Mikó, Nóra Füredi, Andrea Párniczky, Csaba Zsiborás, Márta Balaskó

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Background Obesity is one of the major public health challenges worldwide. It involves numerous endocrine disorders as etiological factors or as complications. Previous studies strongly suggested the involvement of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity in obesity, however, to date, no consistent trend in obesity-associated alterations of the HPA axis has been identified. Aging has been demonstrated to aggravate obesity and to induce abnormalities of the HPA axis. Thus, the question arises whether obesity is correlated with peripheral indicators of HPA function in adult populations. Objectives We aimed to meta-analyze literature data on peripheral cortisol levels as indicators of HPA activity in obesity during aging, in order to identify possible explanations for previous contradictory findings and to suggest new approaches for future clinical studies. Data Sources 3,596 records were identified through searching of PubMed, Embase and Cochrane Library Database. Altogether 26 articles were suitable for analyses. Study Eligibility Criteria Empirical research papers were eligible provided that they reported data of healthy adult individuals, included body mass index (BMI) and measured at least one relevant peripheral cortisol parameter (i.e., either morning blood cortisol or 24-h urinary free cortisol). Statistical Methods We used random effect models in each of the meta-analyses calculating with the DerSimonian and Laird weighting methods. I-squared indicator and Q test were performed to assess heterogeneity. Meta-regression was applied to explore the effect of BMI and age on morning blood and urinary free cortisol levels. To assess publication bias Egger's test was used. Results Obesity did not show any correlation with the studied peripheral cortisol values. On the other hand, peripheral cortisol levels declined with aging within the obese, but not in the nonobese groups. Conclusions Our analysis demonstrated that obesity or healthy aging does not lead to enhanced HPA axis activity, peripheral cortisol levels rather decline with aging.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0166842
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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    Tenk, J., Mátrai, P., Hegyi, P., Rostás, I., Garami, A., Szabó, I., Solymár, M., Pétervári, E., Czimmer, J., Márta, K., Mikó, A., Füredi, N., Párniczky, A., Zsiborás, C., & Balaskó, M. (2016). In Obesity, HPA axis activity does not increase with BMI, but declines with aging:A meta-analysis of clinical studies. PloS one, 11(11), [e0166842].