Link between leptin and interleukin-6 levels in the initial phase of obesity related inflammation

Transl Res. 2012 Feb;159(2):118-24. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2011.10.001. Epub 2011 Nov 4.


The mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of obesity-related atherosclerosis remain to be clarified. To investigate the preclinical phase, interleukin-6 (IL-6) plasma levels were analyzed together with clinical, anthropometric, inflammatory, and metabolic variables in a well-defined cohort of 677 young and middle-aged overweight/obese and normal-weight subjects. In the juvenile and adult overweight/obese study group, IL-6 levels were increased significantly compared with normal-weight, age-matched controls (P < 0.001). In both juveniles and adults, higher levels of IL-6 were observed in obese compared with overweight participants. Subjects with metabolic syndrome (MS) had significantly higher IL-6 levels than those without MS. In juveniles, leptin, and in adults, the waist-to-height ratio, turned out to be the best predictor of IL-6 plasma levels in a multiple stepwise regression model. Taken together, in every age group, interleukin-6 is associated positively with the grade of overweight. Interestingly, leptin, which is the best known adipokine, is associated predictively with interleukin-6 plasma levels only in juveniles, which may indicate an important role of this molecule in the initiation of obesity-related inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Atherosclerosis / blood
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Waist Circumference


  • Biomarkers
  • Interleukin-6
  • Leptin