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Clinical Research

Pharmaceutical interventions for weight-loss maintenance: no effect from cabergoline

International Journal of Obesity (2018) | Download Citation



Weight regain is a major limitation to successful weight maintenance following weight loss. Observational studies suggest that stimulation of dopamine receptors in the central nervous system is associated with weight loss and inhibition of weight gain. Our objective was to test the hypothesis that dopamine agonist treatment would prevent weight regain following acute weight loss in individuals with obesity.


We conducted a 2-year double blind randomised controlled trial comparing the effect of a dopamine agonist, cabergoline, with placebo on weight regain in obese individuals who had lost at least 5% of their body weight using an 800 kcal/day commercial meal replacement programme. The primary outcome measure was the difference in mean weight between the treatment and control groups over the 2-year period following randomisation.


At 24 months, there was no difference in body weight between cabergoline and placebo treatment after adjustment for age, gender and baseline values (0.6 kg (95% CI: −1.5, 2.6), p = 0.58). The mean (±SD) baseline body weight of the randomised participants was 101.8 kg, the mean (±SD) weight loss with the 800 kcal/day diet was 7.1 ± 1.8 kg and the mean (±SD) weight regain at 24 months was 5.1 ± 7.5 kg. There were no significant differences in BMI, percent weight loss, waist circumference, resting energy expenditure, blood pressure or metabolic parameters at 24 months between the two groups.


Treatment with the dopamine agonist cabergoline does not prevent weight regain in obese individuals following weight loss.

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This study was supported by a research grant (11/188) from the Health Research Council of New Zealand. The authors are particularly grateful to the participants who took part in the study and to Anne Ryalls, Liz Berry, Gavin Hendry, Angie Anderson and Mandy-Phipps-Green for their assistance with the conduct of this study.

Author information


  1. Department of Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

    • Patrick J. Manning
    • , Thomas Manning
    •  & Wayne Sutherland
  2. Department of Anatomy, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

    • David Grattan
  3. Department of Biochemistry, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

    • Tony Merriman
  4. Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

    • Sheila Williams


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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Patrick J. Manning.

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