Lower serum leptin concentrations in rugby players in comparison with healthy non-sporting subjects--relationships to anthropometric and biochemical parameters

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1998 Dec;79(1):58-61. doi: 10.1007/s004210050473.


Leptin is a protein hormone synthesized by adipocytes. Its serum concentrations reflect the total body fat content. Serum leptin concentrations are significantly higher in obese than in lean people and in women than in men. However little information about the influence of physical activity on serum leptin concentrations is available. We have compared the body weight, the body mass index (BMI), the body fat content (measured by caliper as skinfold thickness) and the serum concentrations of leptin, triglycerides, total, high density and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in 14 top rugby players and 10 healthy controls. We found that serum leptin, total and LDL cholesterol concentrations were significantly lower in the rugby players group than in the control subjects. The body weight and BMI were significantly higher in the rugby players, while the body fat content was only slightly (non-significantly) higher in the control group. The serum leptin concentrations in both groups positively correlated with the BMI and body fat content and also with LDL concentrations in the control group. The serum leptin concentrations in the rugby players were lower than in the non-sporting subjects despite a similar body fat content in both groups. We would therefore suggest the possibility that regular hard physical training decreases serum leptin concentrations not only by the decrease of total body fat content, but also by a separate mechanism, which is not directly dependent on the changes in the amount of body adipose tissue.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / physiology
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Biomarkers
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Football / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Leptin
  • Male
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Leptin
  • Proteins
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol