The following is a summary of “NUCB2/nesfatin-1 in the acute stress response of obese women with high and low anxiety” published in the September 2023 issue of Psychoneuroendocrinology by Schaper, et al.
Effects on energy homeostasis were discovered first for NUCB2/nesfatin-1, an anorexigenic peptide hormone. Recent studies have pointed to NUCB2/nesfatin-1 as a player in the emotion regulation field, namely in controlling anxious, depressed, and stress-related states of mind. Obesity and stress-related mood problems are frequently seen together. Thus the Researchers looked at how acute psychosocial stress affected circulating NUCB2/nesfatin-1 in obese women and normal-weight controls and how this correlated with anxiety symptoms. The Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) was administered to 40 women (aged 27 to 46): 20 who were overweight and 20 who were not.
Investigators measured variations in heart rate, mood, salivary cortisol, and plasma NUCB2/nesfatin-1. Psychometric instruments were used to assess the state of mind (GAD-7), mood (PHQ-9), stress (PSQ-20), eating disorders (EDE-Q, EDI-2), and health-related quality of life (SF-8). Women with obesity were further classified as either high or low anxiety. Psychopathology was more prominent in obese women compared to normal-weight controls. Both groups showed signs of physical and mental stress after completing the TSST (p<0.001).
Stress caused an increase in NUCB2/nesfatin-1 in normal-weight controls (p = 0.011) and a decrease in NUCB2/nesfatin-1 following recovery (p<0.050), while in obese women, only the decrease during recovery was significant (p = 0.002). NUCB2/nesfatin-1 levels were greater in the high anxiety group of obese women compared to the low anxiety group (TSST: +34%, p = 0.008; control condition: +52%, p = 0.013).
Their findings provide further evidence that NUCB2/nesfatin-1 has a role in regulating stress and anxiety. Whether metabolic alterations or mental comorbidities account for the blunted stress response in obese people is still up for debate.