Appetite-regulating hormone trajectories and relationships with fat mass development in term-born infants during the first 6 months of life

Kirsten S. de Fluiter*, Gerthe F. Kerkhof, Inge A.L.P. van Beijsterveldt, Laura M. Breij, Leonie C. van Vark-van der Zee, Monique T. Mulder, Marieke Abrahamse-Berkeveld, Anita C.S. Hokken-Koelega

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: The first 6 months of life are a critical window for adiposity programming. Appetite-regulating hormones (ARH) are involved in food intake regulation and might, therefore, play a role in adiposity programming. Studies examining ARH in early life are limited. Purpose: To investigate ghrelin, peptide YY (PYY) and leptin until 6 months and associations with fat mass percentage (FM%), infant feeding and human milk macronutrients. Procedures: In 297 term-born infants (Sophia Pluto Cohort), ghrelin (acylated), PYY and leptin were determined at 3 and 6 months, with FM% measurement by PEAPOD. Exclusive breastfeeding (BF) was classified as BF ≥ 3 months. Human milk macronutrients were analyzed (MIRIS Human Milk Analyzer). Main findings: Ghrelin increased from 3 to 6 months (p < 0.001), while PYY decreased (p < 0.001), resulting in increasing ghrelin/PYY ratio. Leptin decreased. Leptin at 3 months was higher in girls, other ARH were similar between sexes. Leptin at 3 and 6 months correlated with FM% at both ages(R ≥ 0.321, p ≤ 0.001) and gain in FM% from 1 to 6 months(R ≥ 0.204, p = 0.001). In BF infants, also ghrelin and ghrelin/PYY ratio correlated with this gain in FM%. Exclusively BF infants had lower ghrelin and higher PYY compared to formula fed infants at 3 months (p ≤ 0.039). ARH did not correlate with macronutrients. Conclusions: Increasing ghrelin and decreasing PYY, thus increasing ghrelin/PYY ratio, suggests an increasing orexigenic drive until 6 months. ARH were different between BF and FF infants at 3 months, but did not correlate with human milk macronutrients. Ghrelin and leptin, but not PYY, correlated with more FM development during the first 6 months, suggesting that they might be involved in adiposity programming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3717-3725
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number7
Early online date25 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by an unrestricted research grant from Danone Nutricia Research (Grant 120417, received by ACS Hokken-Koelega).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

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  • EMC MM-01-54-01


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