Background & aims: Leptin is a peptide that decreases food intake and increases energy expenditure. It is produced in fat cells, is stimulated by cytokines, and its levels in serum are higher in females. Because anorexia, hypermetabolism, and elevated cytokine levels are frequently observed in cirrhosis, we hypothesized that the serum leptin level would be elevated in cirrhosis. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship of serum leptin to gender, body composition, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF).
Methods: Male (n = 18) and female (n = 10) abstinent alcoholic cirrhotic patients were studied and compared with control subjects (15 male and 8 female). Fat mass, fat-free body mass, and body cell mass were calculated by using H2[18O] and bromide dilution methodology. Serum leptin and TNF concentrations were measured by immunoassays.
Results: Fat mass was decreased only in male cirrhotics (P < 0.05), whereas body cell mass was decreased in both male and female cirrhotics (P < 0.01). Leptin levels were elevated in female (P < 0. 001) but not male cirrhotics compared with controls. When expressed per kilogram of fat mass, leptin was elevated in both male (P < 0. 01) and female (P < 0.01) cirrhotics. Women in both cirrhotic and control groups had higher leptin levels than men. TNF was elevated in both male and female cirrhotics and did not correlate with leptin levels.
Conclusions: Cirrhotics have elevated serum leptin levels, which are related to both gender- and gender-dependent alterations in body composition.