OBJECTIVE: Leptin is the hormonal product of the ob gene. It is expressed in adipocytes and participates in the regulation of food intake and metabolism. Since leptin also seems to signal metabolic information to the reproductive system, we studied the association between reproductive hormones and plasma leptin in normal-weight young women. DESIGN: Eight young women with normal menstrual cycles (body mass index (BMI) 21.2 +/- 1.6 kg/m2) and eight young women using hormonal contraception (BMI 21.4 +/- 1.1 kg/m2) were studied. Furthermore, six women with normal menstrual cycles and no hormonal therapy (BMI 20.7 +/- 1.2 kg/m2) were studied around the time of the anticipated ovulation. METHODS: Serum leptin, estradiol, progesterone and luteinizing hormone (LH) concentrations were measured with radioimmunoassays. RESULTS: Serum leptin concentrations were similar at the beginning of the cycle, at the time of the anticipated ovulation and at the end of the menstrual cycle (10.2 +/- 7.1, 10.7 +/- 7.0 and 11.8 +/- 6.9 microg/l respectively). There was an association between leptin and LH concentrations (r= 0.37, P< 0.01) when values recorded during different time points during the cycle were plotted with each other. There was no change in serum leptin in samples taken at different times of the cyclic treatment with an oral contraceptive. There was no significant difference in mean serum leptin concentrations between women using oral contraceptives and women with no hormonal therapy. CONCLUSIONS: There is a link between serum leptin and LH concentrations during the menstrual cycle. Variations in circulating estrogen and/or progesterone concentrations have no major influence on circulating leptin in young female subjects.
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