Disordered leptin and ghrelin bioactivity in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS): a systematic review and meta-analysis

J Orthop Surg Res. 2020 Oct 30;15(1):502. doi: 10.1186/s13018-020-01988-w.


Background: Adolescents with scoliosis consistently demonstrate lower body weight, lean muscle mass, and bone mineral density than healthy adolescent counterparts. Recent studies have focused on understanding how leptin and ghrelin signaling may play a role in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). In our current study, we aim to evaluate the serum levels of leptin, soluble leptin receptor (sOB-R), and ghrelin in AIS patients through systematic review and meta-analysis.

Methods: We conducted our systematic review by searching the keywords in online databases including PubMed, Embase, Cochrane, Elsevier, Springer, and Web of Science from the time of database inception to January 2020. Inclusion criteria were studies that measure leptin, soluble leptin receptor (sOB-R), and ghrelin levels in AIS patients. Selection of studies, assessment of study quality, and data extraction were performed by two reviewers independently. Then, data was analyzed to calculate the mean difference and 95% confidence interval (CI).

Results: Seven studies concerning leptin/sOB-R and three studies concerning ghrelin were qualified for meta-analysis (one study concerning both leptin and ghrelin). Serum leptin of patients with AIS were significantly lower when compared with healthy controls, with the weighted mean difference (WMD) of - 0.95 (95% CI - 1.43 to - 0.48, p < 0.0001) after reducing the heterogeneity using six studies for meta-analysis, while sOB-R and ghrelin level was significantly higher in AIS group when compared with control group, with the WMD of 2.64 (95% CI 1.60 to 3.67, p < 0.001) and 1.42 (95% CI 0.48 to 2.35, p = 0.003), respectively.

Conclusion: Our current meta-analysis showed that serum level of leptin in AIS patients was significantly lower when compared with control subjects, while serum sOB-R and ghrelin levels were significantly higher in AIS patients. More clinical studies are still required to further validate the predictive value of leptin or ghrelin for the curve progression for AIS patients.

Keywords: Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis; Ghrelin; Leptin; Meta-analysis; Soluble leptin receptor.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Ghrelin / blood
  • Ghrelin / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Leptin / blood
  • Leptin / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Receptors, Leptin / blood
  • Scoliosis / diagnosis
  • Scoliosis / etiology*
  • Scoliosis / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Ghrelin
  • Leptin
  • Receptors, Leptin