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Olle Melander

Principal investigator

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Circulating pro-neurotensin levels predict bodyweight gain and metabolic alterations in children


  • Ilaria Barchetta
  • Laura Bertoccini
  • Federica Sentinelli
  • Diego Bailetti
  • Giacomo Marini
  • Flavia Agata Cimini
  • Valentina Ceccarelli
  • Joachim Struck
  • Janin Schulte
  • Sandro Loche
  • Efisio Cossu
  • Olle Melander
  • Maria G. Cavallo
  • Marco G. Baroni

Summary, in English

Background and aims: Neurotensin (NT) is an intestinal peptide released after fat ingestion, which regulates appetite and facilitates lipid absorption. Elevated plasma levels of its stable precursor pro-neurotensin (pro-NT) are associated with type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular mortality in adult populations; no data on pro-NT and metabolic disease are available in children. Aim of the study was to evaluate plasma pro-NT in relation to the presence of obesity in children, and to test if high pro-NT associates with the development of metabolic impairment later in life. Methods and results: For this longitudinal retrospective study, we studied 151 overweight/obese children undergoing metabolic evaluations at University of Cagliari, Italy. Pro-NT was also assessed in 46 normal-weight, age-, sex-comparable normal-weight children, selected as a reference group. At the baseline, pro-NT was comparable between overweight/obese and normal-weight children and correlated positively with age (p < 0.001), triglycerides (p < 0.001) and inversely with HDL levels (p = 0.008). Plasma pro-NT associated with high triglycerides with OR = 5.9 (95%CI: 1.24–28.1; p = 0.026) after adjustment for multiple confounders. At the 6.5-year follow-up, high basal pro-NT associated with impaired β-cell function to compensate for insulin-resistance (disposition index: r = −0.19, p = 0.035) and predicted bodyweight increase, as indicated by percentage change of standard deviation score BMI (median(95%CI) = +20.8(+4.9-+27.5)% in the highest tertile), independently from age, sex, triglycerides and insulin-resistance (standardized β = 0.24; p = 0.036). Conclusions: Elevated pro-NT levels in children are significantly associated with weight gain later in life and may represent a marker of susceptibility to metabolic impairment in presence of obesity.


  • Cardiovascular Research - Hypertension
  • EpiHealth: Epidemiology for Health
  • EXODIAB: Excellence in Diabetes Research in Sweden

Publishing year







Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases





Document type

Journal article




  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Endocrinology and Diabetes


  • Disposition index
  • Insulin-resistance
  • Neurotensin
  • Obesity
  • pro-NT
  • Triglycerides



Research group

  • Cardiovascular Research - Hypertension


  • ISSN: 0939-4753