Serum leptin levels in healthy ageing men: are decreased serum testosterone and increased adiposity in elderly men the consequence of leptin deficiency?Clin Endocrinol (Oxf) 1999; 51(1):81-8CE
The limited information on serum leptin levels in elderly men suggests the occurrence of an age-related decrease, with disruption of the relationship between fat mass and leptin levels. A relative leptin deficiency might thus be implicated in the increase of fat mass and decrease of serum testosterone levels in elderly men. Therefore, we have reevaluated the age-related changes in serum leptin levels and their relationship with adiposity and androgen levels in a large group of community dwelling men.
SUBJECTS AND MEASUREMENTS
Serum leptin and androgen levels were measured in 271 healthy, ambulatory elderly men (median age 74 years), as well as in 61 middle-aged (median 43 years) and 40 young (median 25.5 years) controls. Adiposity was assessed by anthropometrical measurements (body mass index; BMI) and by estimation of fat mass by the bio-impedance method.
Serum leptin levels, whether or not adjusted for BMI, were found to increase with age, the values tending to level off after the age of 45 years, and were strongly correlated to BMI (r = 0.77) and fat mass assessed by the bio-impedance method (r = 0.81). Linear regression analysis showed a similar slope for the relationship between BMI and serum leptin in the three age groups. Multiple linear regression analysis indicated BMI, age and serum insulin, but not serum testosterone, as significant independent correlates of serum leptin. Serum (free) testosterone levels were negatively correlated with age and serum leptin, also after partialization for BMI: rank correlation coefficients vs. age and serum leptin, respectively, were - 0.20 (P < 0.001) and - 0.16 (P < 0.01) for total testosterone and - 0.60 (P < 0.001) and - 0.23 (P < 0.001) for free testosterone. Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) and leptin levels emerged as significant independent correlates in a multiple linear regression model for total serum testosterone; BMI and serum insulin became highly significant correlates in the same model when leptin was omitted from the independent variables.
Ageing in men is accompanied by a rise of serum leptin levels with a maintained strong association between serum leptin and adiposity in elderly men. Testosterone does not appear to be a major determinant of serum leptin in healthy men, while leptin does emerge as a negative correlate of serum testosterone. Increased fat mass and decreased testosterone production in elderly men cannot be attributed to a relative leptin deficiency.