Aims/hypothesis: Insulin resistance as well as marked changes in body weight and energy metabolism are associated with pregnancy. Its impact on plasma leptin is not known and was determined in this longitudinal study in both diabetic and normal pregnancy.
Methods: At 28 gestational weeks plasma concentrations of leptin and B-cell hormones were measured at fasting and after an oral glucose load (OGTT:75 g) in women with gestational diabetes and pregnant women with normal glucose tolerance and compared with women who were not pregnant (C).
Results: Plasma leptin (ng/ml) was higher (p < 0.001) in women with gestational diabetes (24.9 +/- 1.6) than in women with normal glucose tolerance (18.2 +/- 1.5) and increased in both groups when compared with the non-pregnant women (8.2 +/- 1.3; p < 0.0005). No change in plasma leptin concentrations was induced by OGTT in any group. Basal insulin release was higher (p < 0.05) in women with gestational diabetes compared with the pregnant women with normal glucose tolerance. Marked insulin resistance was confirmed by a 20 % lower (p < 0.05) insulin sensitivity in subgroup analysis and a decrease of almost 40% in fasting glucose/insulin ratio (p < 0.005) in women with gestational diabetes. Leptin correlated in women with gestational diabetes with basal plasma concentrations of glucose (p < 0.02), insulin (p < 0.004) and proinsulin (p < 0.01) as well as with BMI (p < 0.001) and overall pregnancy induced maternal weight gain (p < 0.009). With normalisation of blood glucose 8 weeks after delivery in women with gestational diabetes their plasma leptin decreased (p < 0.0005) to 17.3 +/- 1.9 ng/ml but did not completely normalize (p < 0.05 vs non-pregnant women).
Conclusion/interpretation: Our data show that women with gestational diabetes without any change in plasma leptin upon oral glucose loading have increased plasma leptin concentrations during and after pregnancy, a clear association of plasma leptin with the respective concentration of glucose and insulin resistance as well as with changes in body weight, and a failure to normalize spontaneously BMI to the same extent as pregnant women with normal glucose tolerance when compared with matched control subjects.