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T Teirmaa, V Luukkaa, J Rouru, M Koulu and R Huupponen

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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V Luukkaa, J Rouru, O Ahokoski, H Scheinin, K Irjala and R Huupponen

OBJECTIVE: Leptin plays an important role in the regulation of reproduction. To explore the contribution of oestradiol to serum leptin levels in men, we measured the concentrations of serum leptin and insulin after inhibition of oestrogen biosynthesis by selective blockade of the aromatase enzyme. DESIGN: The study had a double-blind parallel group design. METHODS: The aromatase inhibitor, MPV 2213ad, was given to eight healthy male volunteers as a single dose of 100mg. Eight men received placebo. Serum leptin and insulin were determined from blood samples collected at 0800h, 1600h and 2000h both on the actual test day (day 0) and on the previous day (day -1), and from single blood samples taken in the morning of days 1, 2, 4 and 7. Changes in serum leptin were correlated with those seen in serum oestradiol, testosterone, LH, FSH, cortisol and aldosterone, which were determined earlier. RESULTS: After the aromatase inhibitor administration, mean serum oestradiol concentration was reduced by 74% from the baseline compared with a 19% reduction in the placebo group (P for difference <0.001), and returned to pre-treatment levels within four days. Despite marked changes in serum oestradiol and sustained elevations in serum testosterone, LH and FSH concentrations, serum leptin concentrations were similar in the group receiving the aromatase inhibitor and in the placebo group. We found a weak correlation between serum oestradiol and leptin, which could not be reproduced when the percentage changes in these variables were analysed. CONCLUSION: Marked short-term reduction in serum oestradiol concentration has no effect on serum leptin levels in young men.