Pancreatic Cancer Risk Associated with Prediagnostic Plasma Levels of Leptin and Leptin Receptor Genetic Polymorphisms

Cancer Res. 2016 Dec 15;76(24):7160-7167. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-1699. Epub 2016 Oct 25.


Leptin is an adipokine involved in regulating energy balance, which has been identified as a potential biologic link in the development of obesity-associated cancers, such as pancreatic cancer. In this prospective, nested case-control study of 470 cases and 1,094 controls from five U.S. cohorts, we used conditional logistic regression to evaluate pancreatic cancer risk by prediagnostic plasma leptin, adjusting for race/ethnicity, diabetes, body mass index, physical activity, plasma C-peptide, adiponectin, and 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Because of known differences in leptin levels by gender, analyses were conducted separately for men and women. We also evaluated associations between 32 tagging SNPs in the leptin receptor (LEPR) gene and pancreatic cancer risk. Leptin levels were higher in female versus male control participants (median, 20.8 vs. 6.7 ng/mL; P < 0.0001). Among men, plasma leptin was positively associated with pancreatic cancer risk and those in the top quintile had a multivariable-adjusted OR of 3.02 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.27-7.16; Ptrend = 0.02] compared with men in the bottom quintile. Among women, circulating leptin was not associated with pancreatic cancer risk (Ptrend = 0.21). Results were similar across cohorts (Pheterogeneity = 0.88 for two male cohorts and 0.35 for three female cohorts). In genetic analyses, rs10493380 in LEPR was associated with increased pancreatic cancer risk among women, with an OR per minor allele of 1.54 (95% CI, 1.18-2.02; multiple hypothesis-corrected P = 0.03). No SNPs were significantly associated with risk in men. In conclusion, higher prediagnostic levels of plasma leptin were associated with an elevated risk of pancreatic cancer among men, but not among women. Cancer Res; 76(24); 7160-7. ©2016 AACR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / blood
  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Leptin / blood
  • Leptin / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Receptors, Leptin / blood
  • Receptors, Leptin / genetics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Characteristics


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Leptin
  • Receptors, Leptin