Metabolism and brain injury

James Howard jmhoward at
Wed Apr 30 18:39:17 EST 1997

On Mon, 28 Apr 1997 23:12:49 +0000, Lisa Hamilton
<LisaHamilton at> wrote:
>I suffered a brain injury about one year ago.  Since that time 
>(actually, within the first two months) I gained 50lbs.  I used to 
>weigh 125 and now weigh about 178.
>I can't seem to find anything in any of the journals about this.  If 
>anyone has any information -- PLEASE TELL ME!  Did getting knocked in 
>the head change the way my body processes food? What could be the 
>issue here?

James Howard responds:

If you do not mind a little theory, I may be able to provide an
explanation.  I suggest what has happened is that your brain injury
has caused your DHEA to decline.  My work suggests that the brain
stimulates DHEA for its use.  Your brain injury may have caused part
of your brain to stop stimulating DHEA. 

This is how I think it may affect you.  It is known that DHEA
stimulates fat "burning" (Journal of Nutrition 1987; 117: 1287).
(There are other citations that support this; this citation was simply
readily at hand.)    It is known that brain injury reduces DHEAS,
which is the source of DHEA.  "Mean DHEAS was significantly lower in
the nursing home men than in the community men.  ...In the nursing
home men, additionally, plasma DHEAS was inversely related to the
presence of an organic brain syndrome and to the degree of dependence
in activities of daily living. ..." (Journal of the American
Geriatrics Society 1990; 38: 421)  While this does not necessarily
coincide with your brain injury, I think the mechanism of reduced DHEA
may be the same.  Also, DHEA is reduced in multi-infarct dementia,
which causes brain damage (Biological Psychiatry 1991; 30: 688).

So, it may be that your levels of DHEA have been reduced, and this
loss of DHEA is reducing your ability to resist fat deposition.

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