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Nutrición Hospitalaria

On-line version ISSN 1699-5198Print version ISSN 0212-1611


TRUSSARDI-FAYH, Ana-Paula; DE-LIMA-BEZERRA, Agnes-Denise  and  FRIEDMAN, Rogerio. Appetite hormones in children and adolescents with cancer: a systematic review of observational studies. Nutr. Hosp. [online]. 2018, vol.35, n.1, pp.201-210. ISSN 1699-5198.


Malnutrition in children with cancer is a significant risk factor for negative outcomes, but in the clinical practice setting, it is difficult to pinpoint which factors operate to cause substantial weight loss and malnutrition in a given patient. Appetite-related hormones like ghrelin and leptin are among possible mediators. However, only few studies have examined the role of these hormones in pediatric patients with cancer to date. Thus, the purpose of this study was to systematically review possible changes in the levels of appetite hormones, specially leptin and ghrelin, in pediatric patients with cancer.

Material and methods:

We systematically reviewed the literature using PubMed, Lilacs and Scielo, as well as manual bibliographical reference search of the studies. According to the Medical Subject Headings of the National Library of Medicine (MeSH), "childhood cancer", "ghrelin" and "leptin" were used as descriptors.


Fifteen studies were included in this systematic review published in English, from 2000 to 2015. A total of 863 patients were evaluated, ages ranging from 0 to 21 years, and most of the studies reported on children and adolescents with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) survivors. Most studies analyzed leptin levels; only two studies evaluated levels of ghrelin.


This review confirms that changes in the responses of the ghrelin and leptin hormones in children and adolescents with cancer are quite diverse, probably due to the different types of cancer observed, different treatments performed and biological characteristics of this age group.

Keywords : Ghrelin; Leptin. Childhood cancer; Nutritional status; Appetite.

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