Background: Elevated serum leptin (S-leptin) levels have been reported in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Apart from the decreased glomerular filtration rate (GFR), body composition and inflammation may affect leptin levels in ESRD. Leptin circulates both free of and bound to soluble leptin receptors (sOB-R), which are the main determinants of leptin activity and have not been described in ESRD until now.
Design: To analyze the association between S-leptin, sOB-R, and inflammation and body composition, we studied 149 (62% males) normal weight (BMI 24.7 +/- 0.4 kg m(-2)) ESRD patients (51 +/- 1 years old) shortly before the start of dialysis (GFR 7.0 +/- 0.2 mL min(-1)). sOB-R and plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6; n= 113) levels were evaluated using ELISA, S-leptin using RIA, and body composition was assessed by X-ray absorptiometry (n = 139). Forty-one healthy subjects age (51 +/- 1 years), BMI (23.6 +/- 0.5 kg m(-2)) and gender-matched (59% males) were used as controls.
Results: Median S-leptin was higher in the ESRD patients (10.0 ng mL(-1)) compared with the controls (3.9 ng mL(-1)) (P < 0.001). The median sOB-R did not differ significantly between the ESRD patients (44 U mL-1) and the controls (37 U mL-1). Thus, the sOB-R/S-leptin ratio was lower in the ESRD patients (9.5 +/- 1.2 vs. 12.3 +/- 1.8; P < 0.01) than the controls. A negative correlation was observed between S-leptin and sOB-R (Rho = -0.42; P < 0.0001) in the ESRD patients, a positive correlation was observed between lean body mass and the sOB-R/S-leptin ratio (Rho = 0.33, P = 0.0001) whereas fat mass was negatively correlated to both sOB-R (Rho = -0.26, P = 0.002), and the sOB-R/S-leptin ratio (Rho = -0.62, P < 0.0001). Positive correlations were observed between IL-6 and S-leptin (Rho = 0.19; P < 0.05) and weak but significant body fat mass (Rho = 0.20; P < 0.05), respectively.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that despite markedly elevated S-leptin levels in the ESRD patients, sOB-R did not differ from the controls. In view of the anorexigenic and pro-atherogenic effects of leptin, further elucidation of the consequences of free bioactive leptin in the development of complications such as malnutrition and cardiovascular disease in ESRD patients is required.