Serum leptin concentrations and markers of immune function in overweight or obese postmenopausal women.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


The Journal of endocrinology, Volume 199, Issue 1, p.51-60 (2008)


2008, Aged, Body Mass Index, C-Reactive Protein, Cell Proliferation, Center-Authored Paper, Female, Flow Cytometry Core Facility, Humans, Interleukin-6, Killer Cells, Natural, Leptin, Linear Models, Middle Aged, Mitogens, Nephelometry and Turbidimetry, Obesity, Overweight, Phytohemagglutinins, Postmenopause, Prevention Center Core Facility, Public Health Sciences Division, Radioimmunoassay, Serum Amyloid A Protein, Shared Resources, Specimen Processing Core Facility, T-Lymphocytes


Experimental studies and case reports suggest a multifunctional role of leptin in immune function. However, clinical studies of leptin in healthy individuals with a comprehensive assessment of immunity are lacking. This study investigated associations between serum leptin concentrations and multiple biomarkers of cellular immunity and inflammation among 114 healthy postmenopausal, overweight, or obese women. Leptin was measured by RIA. C-reactive protein (CRP) and serum amyloid A (SAA) were measured by nephelometry. Flow cytometry was used to measure natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity and to enumerate and phenotype lymphocyte subsets. T-lymphocyte proliferation was assessed in response to phytohemagluttinin, as well as to anti-CD3 antibodies by the flow cytometric cell division tracking method. Multiple linear regression analysis with adjustment for confounding factors and log transformation, where appropriate, was used. Serum leptin concentrations were positively associated with serum CRP, SAA, and interleukin 6 (IL6) (P<0.0001, P=0.01, and P=0.04 respectively), more strongly among women with a body mass index (BMI) <30 kg/m(2). The associations were attenuated after adjustment for measured body composition, yet remained significant for CRP and SAA. No statistically significant associations were observed between leptin and NK cytotoxicity, lymphocyte subpopulations, or T-lymphocyte proliferation. This study fills an important gap in knowledge about the relationship between leptin concentrations and immune function in healthy individuals. Findings support an association between serum leptin and the inflammatory proteins CRP and SAA, which appears to be mediated only partly by adipose tissue. Our study does not support a link between leptin and other immune parameters among overweight or obese, but otherwise healthy postmenopausal women, perhaps because such effects are only present at low or deficient leptin concentrations.