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GDF15 Is Elevated in Conditions of Glucocorticoid Deficiency and Is Modulated by Glucocorticoid Replacement.

Journal article
Authors Audrey Melvin
Dimitrios Chantzichristos
Catriona J Kyle
Scott D Mackenzie
Brian R Walker
Gudmundur Johannsson
Roland H Stimson
Stephen O'Rahilly
Published in The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism
Volume 105
Issue 5
Pages 1427–1434
ISSN 1945-7197
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition
Pages 1427–1434
Language en
Subject categories Endocrinology


GDF15 is a stress-induced hormone acting in the hindbrain that activates neural circuitry involved in establishing aversive responses and reducing food intake and body weight in animal models. Anorexia, weight loss, nausea and vomiting are common manifestations of glucocorticoid deficiency, and we hypothesized that glucocorticoid deficiency may be associated with elevated levels of GDF15.To determine the impact of primary adrenal insufficiency (PAI) and glucocorticoid replacement on circulating GDF15 levels.We measured circulating concentrations of GDF15 in a cohort of healthy volunteers and Addison's disease patients following steroid withdrawal. Significantly higher GDF15 (mean ± standard deviation [SD]) was observed in the Addison's cohort, 739.1 ± 225.8 pg/mL compared to healthy controls, 497.9 ± 167.7 pg/mL (P = 0.01). The effect of hydrocortisone replacement on GDF15 was assessed in 3 independent PAI cohorts with classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia or Addison's disease; intravenous hydrocortisone replacement reduced GDF15 in all groups. We examined the response of GDF15 to increasing doses of glucocorticoid replacement in healthy volunteers with pharmacologically mediated cortisol deficiency. A dose-dependent difference in GDF15 (mean ± SD) was observed between the groups with values of 491.0 ± 157.7 pg/mL, 427.0 ± 152.1 pg/mL and 360 ± 143.1 pg/mL, in the low, medium and high glucocorticoid replacement groups, respectively, P < .0001.GDF15 is increased in states of glucocorticoid deficiency and restored by glucocorticoid replacement. Given the site of action of GDF15 in the hindbrain and its effects on appetite, further study is required to determine the effect of GDF15 in mediating the anorexia and nausea that is a common feature of glucocorticoid deficiency.

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