Obesity, whole blood serotonin and sex differences in healthy volunteers

Type Article

Journal Article


S. Hodge; B. P. Bunting; E. Carr; J. J. Strain; B. J. Stewart-Knox

Year of publication



Obes Facts








BACKGROUND: Obesity is a growing problem throughout Europe, where the rate has more than doubled over the past 20 years. Reduced circulating serotonin may contribute to the development of obesity. This study aimed to explore associations between whole blood (WB) serotonin concentrations and anthropometric measures. METHODS: Healthy adult volunteers (N = 68) gave whole blood samples for measurement of WB serotonin, and underwent BMI waist circumference (WC) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) assessment as well as DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) scans for anthropometric parameters. Student's t-tests determined differences in WB serotonin and anthropometric measures between sexes. Partial Pearson's correlations were carried out on anthropometric measures and WB serotonin. RESULTS: For the whole sample, WB serotonin was significantly negatively correlated with BMI, WC, WHR as well as android, gynoid and total % body fat. Analysis by sex showed significant negative correlations between WB serotonin and android, gynoid as well as total fat in males, but not in females. CONCLUSION: This dichotomy between the sexes implies that there may be sex differences in the way that serotonin interplays with the development of obesity and body fat distribution.