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N Bergmann, F Gyntelberg and J Faber

Chronic psychosocial stress has been proposed as a risk factor for the development of the metabolic syndrome (MES). This review gives a systematic overview of prospective cohort studies investigating chronic psychosocial stress as a risk factor for incident MES and the individual elements of MES. Thirty-nine studies were included. An association between chronic psychosocial stress and the development of MES was generally supported. Regarding the four elements of MES: i) weight gain: the prospective studies supported etiological roles for relationship stress, perceived stress, and distress, while the studies on work-related stress (WS) showed conflicting results; ii) dyslipidemi: too few studies on psychosocial stress as a risk factor for dyslipidemia were available to draw a conclusion; however, a trend toward a positive association was present; iii) type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2): prospective studies supported perceived stress and distress as risk factors for the development of DM2 among men, but not among women, while WS was generally not supported as a risk factor among neither men nor women; iv) hypertension: marital stress and perceived stress might have an influence on blood pressure (BP), while no association was found regarding distress. Evaluating WS the results were equivocal and indicated that different types of WS affected the BP differently between men and women. In conclusion, a longitudinal association between chronic psychosocial stress and the development of MES seems present. However, the number of studies with sufficient quality is limited and the design of the studies is substantially heterogeneous.

Open access

David P Sonne, Asger Lund, Jens Faber, Jens J Holst, Tina Vilsbøll and Filip K Knop

Bile acids are possible candidate agents in newly identified pathways through which energy expenditure may be regulated. Preclinical studies suggest that bile acids activate the enzyme type 2 iodothyronine deiodinase, which deiodinates thyroxine (T4) to the biologically active triiodothyronine (T3). We aimed to evaluate the influence of bile acid exposure and incretin hormones on thyroid function parameters in patients with type 2 diabetes. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroid hormones (total T3 and free T4) were measured in plasma from two human studies: i) 75 g-oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and three isocaloric (500 kcal) and isovolaemic (350 ml) liquid meals with increasing fat content with concomitant ultrasonographic evaluation of gallbladder emptying in 15 patients with type 2 diabetes and 15 healthy age, gender and BMI-matched controls (meal-study) and ii) 50 g-OGTT and isoglycaemic intravenous glucose infusions (IIGI) alone or in combination with glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) and/or GLP2, in ten patients with type 2 diabetes (IIGI-study). In both studies, TSH levels declined (P<0.01) similarly following all meal and infusion stimuli. T3 and T4 concentrations did not change in response to any of the applied stimuli. TSH levels declined independently of the degree of gallbladder emptying (meal-study), route of nutrient administration and infusion of gut hormones. In conclusion, intestinal bile flow and i.v. infusions of the gut hormones, GIP, GLP1 and/or GLP2, do not seem to affect thyroid function parameters. Thus, the presence of a ‘gut–thyroid–pituitary’ axis seems questionable.