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Metabolic syndrome is a sequela of radiation exposure in hypothalamic obesity among survivors of childhood brain tumors
  1. Raven Cooksey1,
  2. Susan Y Wu2,
  3. Laura Klesse3,4,
  4. Jon D Oden5,
  5. Ross E Bland5,
  6. Joseph C Hodges6,
  7. Lynn Gargan3,
  8. Gloria Lena Vega3,
  9. Daniel C Bowers3,4
  1. 1 Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, Austin, Texas, USA
  2. 2 University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  3. 3 University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA
  4. 4 Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, Dallas, USA
  5. 5 Northeast Louisiana Cancer Institute, Monroe, Louisiana, USA
  6. 6 Texas Oncology-Longview Cancer Center, Longview, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Gloria Lena Vega, Center for Human Nutrition, Dallas, TX 75390, USA; Gloria.Vega{at} and Professor Daniel C Bowers, Department of Pediatrics, Dallas, TX 75390, USA; Daniel.Bowers{at}


Survivors of childhood brain tumors may be at risk for early onset of metabolic syndrome, possibly secondary to surgery and/or radiation exposure. This study examines effects of radiation exposure to hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) on metabolic risk among survivors of childhood brain tumors. One hundred forty-two met inclusion criteria; 60 had tumor surgery plus radiation exposure (>1 Gray (Gy)) to HPA. The second subgroup of 82 subjects had surgery only and were not exposed to radiation. Both subgroups had survived for approximately 5 years at the time of study. All had clinical evaluation, vital signs, anthropometry, measurement of body composition by dual X-ray absorptiometry and fasting laboratory assays (metabolic panel, insulin, C-peptide, insulin-like growth factor-1, leptin and adiponectin). Body composition data for both subgroups was compared with the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES) subgroup of similar age, gender and body mass index. Cranial surgery was associated with obesity of similar severity in both subgroups. However, survivors exposed to radiation to the HPA also had increased visceral fat mass and high prevalence of growth hormone deficiency and metabolic syndrome. Fat mass alone did not explain the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in radiation exposure subgroup. Other factors such as growth hormone deficiency may have contributed to metabolic risk. We conclude that prevalence of metabolic syndrome among subjects exposed to hypothalamic radiation was higher than expected from hypothalamic obesity alone. Radiation exposure may exert untoward endocrinopathies due to HPA exposure that worsens metabolic risk. Early screening for metabolic syndrome in this population is indicated.

  • obesity
  • cancer

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  • Contributors All authors meet one or more criteria for coauthorship, that is, substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work, or the acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data; drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; final approval of the version published. Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding Funding for this project was provided by Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer, the Children’s Cancer Fund of Dallas and a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to UTSW and UT-STAR (NIH/NCATS Grant Number UL1TR000451).

  • Disclaimer This content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or other funding sources.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The Institutional Review Board of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the Simmons Cancer Center Protocol Review and Monitoring Committee approved and monitored this study.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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