Twenty-four-hour leptin levels respond to cumulative short-term energy imbalance and predict subsequent intake

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Aug;85(8):2685-91. doi: 10.1210/jcem.85.8.6755.


Leptin plays a vital role in the regulation of energy balance in rodent models of obesity. However, less information is available about its homeostatic role in humans. The aim of this study was to determine whether leptin serves as an indicator of short-term energy balance by measuring acute effects of small manipulations in energy intake on leptin levels in normal individuals. The 12-day study was composed of four consecutive dietary-treatment periods of 3 days each. Baseline (BASE) [100% total energy expenditure (TEE)] feeding, followed by random crossover periods of overfeeding (130% TEE) or underfeeding (70% TEE) separated by a eucaloric (100% TEE) washout (WASH) period. The study participants were six healthy, nonobese subjects. Leptin levels serially measured throughout the study period allowed a daily profile for each treatment period to be constructed and a 24-h average to be calculated; ad libitum intake during breakfast "buffet" following each treatment period was also measured. Average changes in mesor leptin levels during WASH, which were sensitive to energy balance effected during the prior period, were observed. After underfeeding, leptin levels during WASH were 88 +/- 16% of those during BASE compared with 135 +/- 22% following overfeeding (P = 0.03). Leptin levels did not return to BASE during WASH when intake returned to 100% TEE, but instead were restored (104 +/- 21% and 106 +/- 16%; not significant) only after subjects crossed-over to complementary dietary treatment that restored cumulative energy balance. Changes in ad libitum intake from BASE correlated with changes in leptin levels (r2 = 0.40; P = 0.01). Leptin levels are acutely responsive to modest changes in energy balance. Because leptin levels returned to BASE only after completion of a complementary feeding period and restoration of cumulative energy balance, leptin levels reflect short-term cumulative energy balance. Leptin seems to maintain cumulative energy balance by modulating energy intake.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Leptin / metabolism
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Postprandial Period
  • Reference Values
  • Regression Analysis


  • Leptin