Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG) is an effective bariatric surgery to treat obesity, and involves removal of the gastric fundus where ghrelin is mainly produced. Ghrelin stimulates appetite and regulates food intake through its effect on the hypothalamus and hippocampus (HIPP). While ghrelin’s role on the hypothalamus has been explored, little is known about its role on HIPP. We tested the hypothesis that LSG-induced reductions in ghrelin levels would be associated with changes in HIPP activity.
Brain activity was measured with amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (ALFF) captured with resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 30 obese participants, both before and after 1-month of LSG, and in 26 obese controls without surgery that were studied at baseline and 1-month later. A two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to model the group and time effects on ALFF and resting-state functional connectivity.
One-month post-LSG there were significant decreases in appetite, body mass index (BMI), fasting plasma ghrelin and leptin levels, anxiety, and ALFF in HIPP and ALFF increases in posterior cingulate cortex (PCC, PFWE < 0.05). Decreases in HIPP ALFF correlated positively with decreases in fasting ghrelin and anxiety, and increases in PCC ALFF correlated positively with decreases in anxiety. Seed-voxel correlation analysis showed stronger connectivity between HIPP and insula, and between PCC and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) post-LSG.
These findings suggest that ghrelin effects in HIPP modulate connectivity with the insula, which processes interoception and might be relevant to LSG-induced reductions in appetite/anxiety. Role of LSG in PCC and its enhanced connectivity with DLPFC in improving self-regulation following LSG requires further investigation.
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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant Nos. 61431013, 81470816, 81601563, 81501543, and 81730016; National Clinical Research Center for Digestive Diseases, Xi’an, China under Grant No. 2015BAI13B07; and support in part from the Intramural Research Program of the United States National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, Z01AA3009 (DT, CEW, NDV, GJW).
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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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Zhang, Y., Ji, G., Li, G. et al. Ghrelin reductions following bariatric surgery were associated with decreased resting state activity in the hippocampus. Int J Obes 43, 842–851 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-018-0126-x
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