Short-Term Effects of Gastric Bypass Surgery on Circulating Ghrelin Levels


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Obesity Unit Endocrinology and Diabetes Department, Hospital Clínic Universitari, Villarroel, 170 08036 Barcelona, Spain. E-mail:


Objective: To prospectively evaluate the short-term effects of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGBP) on ghrelin secretion and its relevance on food intake and body weight changes.

Research Methods and Procedures: Ghrelin response to a standardized test meal was evaluated in eight obese patients (BMI, 43.5 to 59.1 kg/m2) before and 6 weeks after RYGBP. Ghrelin response was compared with that of an age-matched group of six normal weight individuals (BMI, 19.6 to 24.9 kg/m2).

Results: Fasting serum ghrelin levels were lower in obese subjects compared with controls (p < 0.05). Meal ingestion significantly suppressed ghrelin concentration in controls (p < 0.05) and obese subjects (p < 0.05), albeit to a lesser degree in the latter group (p < 0.05). Despite a 10.3 ± 1.5% weight loss, fasting serum ghrelin levels were paradoxically further decreased in obese subjects 6 weeks after RYGBP (p < 0.05). Moreover, at this time-point, food intake did not elicit a significant ghrelin suppression. The changes in ghrelin secretion after RYGBP correlated with changes in insulin sensitivity (p < 0.05) and caloric intake (p < 0.05).

Discussion: This study showed that the adaptive response of ghrelin to body weight loss was already impaired 6 weeks after RYGBP. Our study provides circumstantial evidence for the potential role of ghrelin in the negative energy balance in RYGBP-operated patients.