Nonadipose tissue production of leptin: leptin as a novel placenta-derived hormone in humans

Nat Med. 1997 Sep;3(9):1029-33. doi: 10.1038/nm0997-1029.


Leptin is a circulating hormone that is expressed abundantly and specifically in the adipose tissue. It is involved in the regulation of energy homeostasis, as well as the neuroendocrine and reproductive systems. Here, we demonstrate production of leptin by nonadipose tissue, namely, placental trophoblasts and amnion cells from uteri of pregnant women. We show that pregnant women secrete a considerable amount of leptin from the placenta into the maternal circulation as compared with nonpregnant obese women. Leptin production was also detected in a cultured human choriocarcinoma cell line, BeWo cells, and was augmented during the course of forskolin-induced differentiation of cytotrophoblasts into syncytiotrophoblasts. Plasma leptin levels were markedly elevated in patients with hydatidiform mole or choriocarcinoma and were reduced after surgical treatment or chemotherapy. Leptin is also produced by primary cultured human amnion cells and is secreted into the amniotic fluid. The present study provides evidence for leptin as a novel placenta-derived hormone in humans and suggests the physiologic and pathophysiologic significance of leptin in normal pregnancy and gestational trophoblastic neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adult
  • Amnion / metabolism
  • Amniotic Fluid / metabolism
  • Choriocarcinoma / blood
  • Choriocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Hormones / biosynthesis*
  • Hormones / blood
  • Hormones / genetics
  • Humans
  • Hydatidiform Mole / blood
  • Leptin
  • Obesity / blood
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Trophoblasts / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Uterine Neoplasms / blood
  • Uterine Neoplasms / metabolism


  • Hormones
  • Leptin
  • Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger