Metabolic profiling in Prader-Willi syndrome and nonsyndromic obesity: sex differences and the role of growth hormone


Irizarry KA, Bain J, Butler MG, Ilkayeva O, Muehlbauer M, Haqq AM, Freemark M

Scientific Notation:

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2015 Mar 4. doi: 10.1111/cen.12766. [Epub ahead of print]

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To identify metabolic factors controlling appetite and insulin sensitivity in PWS and assess effects of GH treatment.


We compared amino acids, fatty acids and acylcarnitines in GH-treated and untreated PWS children and obese and lean controls to identify biomarkers associated with ghrelin, peptide YY and markers of insulin sensitivity (adiponectin and HOMA-IR).


Compared with obese controls (OC), children with PWS had fasting hyperghrelinaemia, hyperadiponectinaemia, hypoinsulinaemia and increased ghrelin/PYY. Hyperghrelinaemia, hyperadiponectinaemia and hypoinsulinaemia were more striking in PWS females than males, and decreases in BCAA were detected only in PWS females. GH-treated PWS subjects had lower leptin and higher IGF-1 and adiponectin than untreated subjects; fasting ghrelin, PYY and insulin levels were comparable. Ghrelin correlated inversely with BCAA in PWS but not OC. Adiponectin correlated negatively with BMIz and HOMA-IR in PWS; in contrast, adiponectin correlated more strongly with BCAA than BMIz or HOMA-IR in OC.


BCAA levels were lower in PWS females than OC females and correlated inversely with ghrelin. Low BCAA in PWS females may promote hyperghrelinaemia and hyperphagia, while hyperadiponectinaemia may maintain insulin sensitivity despite excess weight gain. GH treatment may reduce leptin and increase adiponectin, but does not affect fasting ghrelin or PYY.

© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Learn more about the importance of growth hormone therapy for PWS.