Purpose Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) occurs predominantly in young, obese women. Weight loss may alleviate symptoms of IIH yet may be difficult to achieve. Ghrelin, a gastric hormone, is involved in normal body weight and appetite regulation. Its levels are elevated in syndromes of overeating and decline in simple obesity. We postulated that fasting plasma ghrelin levels are elevated in IIH patients and that the typical postprandial decline in plasma ghrelin may not occur. Design Prospective, observational case-control study. Methods Prospective study. Setting University hospital and clinic. Study population Sixty-five patients with a diagnosis of IIH and 25 obese control patients (screened for IIH symptoms). Patients with intracranial abnormalities or a history of gastric surgery were excluded. Observation procedure Fasting plasma ghrelin, leptin, and insulin levels were assessed between 8 am and 10 am. Subjects were fed a standard breakfast, and postprandial ghrelin levels were measured 30 minutes later. Results Fasting plasma ghrelin levels negatively correlated with body mass index in both IIH subjects (r = -.48) and controls; leptin showed a positive correlation with body mass index in both IIH (r = .59) and controls. Levels were not significantly different between the groups. Postprandial ghrelin declined by 71 ± 31 (95% CI) pg/ml in the IIH group and 71 ± 35 (95% CI) pg/ml in the control group. Conclusion Plasma ghrelin levels, both fasting and postprandial, do not differ between IIH patients and obese controls. Obese IIH patients should be encouraged to lose weight and referred for medical weight loss management to maximize their chances of alleviating their symptoms.
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