Study of serum leptin in well-differentiated thyroid carcinoma: correlation with patient and tumor characteristics

World J Surg. 2014 Oct;38(10):2621-7. doi: 10.1007/s00268-014-2634-8.


Background: There is a proven relationship between obesity and several cancers including breast, endometrium, colorectal, and esophagus. With the increasing incidence of both obesity and thyroid cancer, we designed the present study to investigate a causal relationship between leptin, which is one of the well known adipokines, and well-differentiated thyroid cancer (WDTC).

Methods: Serum leptin levels were measured in 30 patients with WDTC and compared to 30 healthy control subjects before and 1 month after surgery. Other parameters studied included age, sex, body mass index, menopausal status in women, lymph node status, tumor size, and disease multifocality.

Results: There were no differences between the two groups regarding age and sex. Preoperative leptin levels were higher in the WDTC patients when compared to the control patients [19.25 (1.50-109.60) vs 0.90 (0.50-11.80) ng/ml, p < 0.001, group 1 vs group 2, respectively]. A significant drop in leptin levels 1 month after surgery occurred in the WDTC group, falling from 19.25 (1.50-109.60) to 0.90 (0.60-8.90) ng/ml (p < 0.001). This did not occur in the control group (p = 0.274). Lymph node involvement, tumor size, and multifocality had no effect on leptin levels, although trends were observed (p = 0.48, 0.079, and 0.064), respectively.

Conclusions: Serum leptin levels were significantly higher in WDTC patients when compared to control group patients, with a significant drop after surgery. Leptin may play a role in diagnosis of WDTC; however, its prognostic value is still undetermined.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Carcinoma / blood*
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Carcinoma / surgery
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Lymph Node Excision
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Period
  • Preoperative Period
  • Prognosis
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / blood*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Young Adult


  • Leptin