Increased leptin levels in preeclampsia: associations with BMI, estrogen and SHBG levels

Hormones (Athens). Jan-Mar 2004;3(1):46-52. doi: 10.14310/horm.2002.11111.


Leptin is secreted mainly by the white adipose tissue but is also synthesized in several non-adipose tissue organs including the placenta. Serum leptin levels are increased in normal pregnancies and are higher in preeclamptic than normal pregnant women. There is, however, a lack of empirical evidence of an independent association of serum leptin levels and preeclamsia. We have studied cross-sectionally 18 3rd trimester preeclamptic women, 28 3rd trimester and 30 2nd trimester control women to confirm the reported increase of serum leptin in preeclampsia and to assess whether elevated leptin levels in preeclampsia increase the variance explained by body mass index (BMI), androgens, estrogens and/or sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Anthropometric, demographic and hormonal data were analyzed using linear and logistic regression models.

Results: Leptin is significantly increased in preeclampsia by univariate analysis, but use of multivariate analysis indicates that the elevated leptin levels are not associated with preeclampsia independently from BMI, estrogens and SHBG.

Conclusion: This study confirms that leptin levels are higher in women with preeclampsia than in controls and demonstrates that serum leptin levels do not add to the prediction of preeclampsia after accounting for BMI, estrogen and SHBG levels of preeclamptic women.