Evidence suggests that leptin is involved in relevant processes in the cardiovascular system. Low serum leptin levels have been associated with increased cardiovascular events and mortality in patients with coronary artery, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. We hypothesized that leptin is increased in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and provides prognostic information. We correlated leptin levels with clinical data and assessed its association with survival. Sixty-seven patients with PAH and 29 healthy controls were studied. Plasma leptin levels were nonlinearly associated with BMI. Leptin level <15 μg/l was associated with higher mortality in PAH patients, with an adjusted (age, gender, BMI, and smoking status) hazard ratio of 3.8 (95% CI: 1.3-11.2), P=0.016. Similarly, PAH patients with leptin/BMI ratio <0.5 μg * m(2)/kg * l had worse survival than those with a level >0.5 μg * m(2)/ kg * l (P=0.046 by log-rank test). Two-year mortality in PAH patients was 24%. A receiver operating characteristic curve using leptin/BMI ratio as the test variable and 2-year mortality as the state variable showed an area under the curve of 0.74 (95% CI: 0.62-0.86). A leptin/BMI ratio cut-off of 0.6 had a high sensitivity (94%) and negative predictive value (96%) for predicting death of any cause at 2 years. In PAH, plasma leptin levels are directly associated with BMI. Lower leptin levels, when adjusted by BMI, are associated with an increased overall mortality and leptin/BMI ratio has high negative predictive value for mortality at 2 years.
Keywords: leptin; mortality; obesity; pulmonary hypertension.