The degree of hyperinsulinemia and impaired glucose tolerance predicts plasma leptin concentrations in women only: a new exploratory paradigm.Metabolism. 2000 Aug; 49(8):1055-62.M
Plasma leptin has been shown to correlate positively with many indices of obesity, as well as insulin resistance. For a given body weight, the levels are higher in women than in men, but the reasons for this difference are not clear. Insulin has been shown to stimulate leptin production by adipose tissue in vivo and in vitro. Previous studies have reported that leptin levels are similar in diabetic and nondiabetic individuals. However, these studies were not performed in newly diagnosed diabetics, and other variables (such as gender) could have confounded the results. Therefore, the goal of the present cross-sectional study is to examine the effect of metabolic variables (such as glucose and insulin) on plasma leptin concentrations in men and women separately. We measured leptin levels in 48 subjects (17 with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus, 13 with impaired glucose tolerance [IGT], and 18 normal individuals). The 3 groups were well matched for gender, age, and body mass index (BMI). When adjusted for the BMI and gender, a statistically significant gender-related difference in mean plasma leptin was observed across the 3 glucose tolerance subgroups (P < .03 by analysis of covariance [ANCOVA]). More specifically, plasma leptin levels were, on average, 44% lower in women with diabetes or IGT versus normal women (P < .02). No such between-group difference was observed in the men. In univariate analysis in the same female subgroup, plasma leptin correlated positively with fasting insulin (rs = +.43, P < .06) and negatively with 2-hour post-75-g glucose load plasma glucose concentration (rs = -.54, P < .02). In a multiple regression model controlling for the BMI in the female subgroup, circulating insulin and glucose concentrations 2 hours after the 75-g glucose load were good predictors of fasting plasma leptin (r = +.38, P = .02 and r = -.70, P < .001, respectively). Leptin levels in women appear to be influenced independently and to an important degree by ambient plasma glucose and plasma insulin concentrations. These findings suggest that the synthesis of leptin by adipose tissue is more susceptible to in vivo regulation by insulin and glucose in women than in men. Plasma leptin concentrations were also lower in women with IGT or type 2 diabetes versus normal women, suggesting that fasting and/or postprandial hyperglycemia interferes with the stimulatory effect of plasma insulin on the synthesis of leptin by adipose tissue in women only.