Review of physiology, clinical manifestations, and management of hypothalamic obesity in humans

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Hypothalamic injury from acquired structural damage due to infiltrative disease, tumor, or their treatment aftereffects frequently results in the development of an obesity syndrome characterized by a rapid, unrelenting weight gain that may be accompanied by severe hyperphagia. Weight gain occurs from the disruption of the normal homeostatic functioning of the hypothalamic centers responsible for controlling satiety and hunger and regulating energy balance with resulting hyperphagia, autonomic imbalance, reduction of energy expenditure, and hyperinsulinemia. Curtailment of weight increase has traditionally been refractory to usual dietary and lifestyle interventions. Pharmacotherapy targeting insulin secretion and augmenting sympathetic output have been attempted to promote weight loss or attenuate weight gain. In addition, case reports suggest that bariatric surgery may be an effective treatment option for these patients. Hormonal deficits are often present, and their management may also have consequences for weight control. Hypothalamic obesity confers significant morbidity and mortality, and there is a need for greater elucidation of its risk factors and pathogenesis so that more effective interventions can be developed.

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