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M Boguszewski, J Dahlgren, R Bjarnason, S Rosberg, LM Carlsson, B Carlsson and K Albertsson-Wikland

The product of the obese (ob) gene, leptin, is an adipocyte-derived hormone that is involved in the regulation of appetite and body weight. This study was undertaken in order to describe the basal serum levels of leptin in prepubertal short children born small for gestational age (SGA) and their relationship with growth parameters, before and during growth hormone (GH) treatment. Eighty-nine prepubertal short children (66 boys, 23 girls; height standard deviation score (SDS), -5.4 to -2.0; age, 2.0 to 12.8 years) born SGA, 12 of whom (9 boys, 3 girls) had signs of Silver-Russell syndrome, were included in the study. Serum leptin concentrations were measured by radioimmunoassay. Leptin levels in the children born SGA were compared with those in a reference group of 109 prepubertal healthy children born at an appropriate size for gestational age (AGA). The mean (S.D.) change in height SDS was 0.11 (0.22) during the year before the start of GH therapy (0.1 IU/kg/day) and increased to 0.82 (0.44) during the first year (P < 0.001) and to 1.28 (0.59) during the 2-year period of GH therapy (P < 0.001). The children born SGA were significantly leaner than the reference group. An inverse correlation was found between leptin and chronological age in the SGA group (r = -0.31, P < 0.01). The mean serum level of leptin in the children born SGA who were older than 5.5 years of age was 2.8 micrograms/l which was significantly lower than the mean value of 3.7 micrograms/l found in the children born AGA of the same age range. The difference remained after adjustment of leptin levels for sex, age, body mass index (BMI) and weight-for-height SDS (WHSDSSDS). Leptin correlated with WHSDSSDS (r = 0.32, P < 0.001) and BMI (r = 0.36, P < 0.01) in the reference population, but not in the SGA group. No correlation was found between leptin and spontaneous 24-h GH secretion, insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I or IGF-binding protein-3 levels, or with fasting insulin or cortisol levels. Leptin levels at the start of GH treatment were correlated with the growth response over both 1 year (r = 0.46, P < 0.001) and 2 years (r = 0.51, P < 0.001) of GH therapy. Using multiple regression analysis, models including leptin levels at the start of GH therapy could explain 51% of the variance in the growth response after 1 year and 44% after 2 years of GH treatment. In conclusion, serum leptin levels are reduced in short children born SGA and are inversely correlated with chronological age. Leptin concentrations correlate with the growth response to GH treatment and might be used as a marker for predicting the growth response to GH treatment.

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C Ankarberg-Lindgren, J Dahlgren, B Carlsson, S Rosberg, L Carlsson, KA Wikland and E Norjavaara

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the levels and diurnal rhythm of serum leptin in healthy children, and to investigate the association between leptin levels and sex steroids. METHODS: Four girls and four boys, all healthy volunteers, were followed longitudinally throughout puberty. Their chronological ages ranged from 8.7 to 19.5 years, and body composition, expressed as weight-for-height standard deviation scores (SDS), ranged between -1.7 and +2.4. Serum leptin, oestradiol and testosterone concentrations were measured by radioimmunoassay at 1000, 1400, 1800, 2200, 0200 and 0600 h. RESULTS: In all girls and boys, both prepubertally and during pubertal development, serum leptin levels increased during the night, with no difference in relative peak amplitude. In boys, the leptin concentrations increased until the initiation of puberty and then declined, whereas in girls, the concentrations increased throughout puberty. The inter-individual variation in mean leptin levels among girls decreased to 11% at the time of menarche. A positive correlation was found for both oestradiol and testosterone versus leptin in girls throughout puberty (r=0.64 and r=0.71 respectively, P<0.001). A negative correlation was found between leptin and testosterone in boys in mid- and late puberty (r=-0.66, P<0.01). No correlation was found between oestradiol and leptin in boys or between testosterone and leptin in pre- and early pubertal boys. CONCLUSION: Serum leptin concentrations show diurnal variation throughout pubertal development in both girls and boys. The changes in leptin levels during puberty follow a gender-specific pattern, probably due to an influence of sex steroids on leptin production.

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CL Boguszewski, MC Boguszewski, F de Zegher, B Carlsson and LM Carlsson

The neonatal and postpartum periods are characterized by alterations in pituitary GH secretion. We have investigated the proportion of circulating non-22kDa GH isoforms in newborns, in women within the early postpartum phase (just after the disappearance of placental GH from the maternal circulation) and in women during late postpartum (during the somatotroph recovery phase). We studied 10 newborns (7 males; 3 females; median postnatal age, 45h), who had been admitted because of polycythaemia, 10 women in the early postpartum phase (median, 48h after delivery; range, 42-54h), 18 women in the late postpartum phase (median, 10 weeks after delivery; range, 3-25 weeks) and 9 healthy non-pregnant women. The proportion of non-22kDa GH isoforms was determined by the 22kDa GH exclusion assay, which is based on immunomagnetic extraction of 22kDa GH from serum, and quantitation of non-22kDa GH isoforms using a polyclonal GH assay. In newborns, non-22kDa GH isoforms were measured in two arterial blood samples obtained with a 5-6h interval. In the other groups, serum samples were obtained 40min after an i.v. bolus administration of the GH secretagogue, GH releasing peptide-1 (GHRP-1).In newborns, the median proportion of non-22kDa GH isoforms was 10% (range, 7. 2-19.4%) and the values were similar in samples collected at different times. In early postpartum women, total GH levels after GHRP-1 were lower and the proportion of non-22kDa GH isoforms was higher compared with the values in non-pregnant and late-postpartum women. In late postpartum, there was a partial recovery of GH response to GHRP-1, as shown by an increment in total GH levels, which was associated with a decrease in the fraction of non-22kDa GH isoforms. In conclusion, we found that (i) the proportion of non-22kDa GH isoforms in the newborn is comparable to that in the adult (non-pregnant women), (ii) in early postpartum, the non-22kDa fraction is high within the small pool of readily releasable GH, (iii) in late postpartum, recovery of pituitary GH responsiveness is associated with a relative decrease in the release of non-22kDa GH isoforms.

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CL Boguszewski, C Jansson, MC Boguszewski, S Rosberg, KA Wikland, B Carlsson and LM Carlsson

The proportion of non-22 kDa GH isoforms was evaluated in 93 healthy children (48 boys aged 6.8-18.4 years and 45 girls aged 3.9-18.4 years) of normal stature (height +/- 2 s.d. score) at different stages of puberty. In addition, correlations among the proportion of non-22 kDa GH isoforms, auxology, spontaneous GH secretion and biochemical measurements were investigated. Serum non-22 kDa GH levels, expressed as percentage of total GH concentration in the samples, were determined by the 22 kDa GH exclusion assay, in which monomeric and dimeric 22 kDa GH are removed from serum and the non-22 kDa GH isoforms are quantitated using a polyclonal antibody GH assay. Samples were selected from spontaneous GH peaks in 24-h GH profiles. For boys, the median proportion of non-22 kDa GH isoforms was 8.5% (range 3.2-26.6%) and for girls it was 9.6% (1.8-17.4%), with no influence of age and no sex-related difference in prepubertal (boys, 7.2%; girls, 8.8%) or pubertal children (boys, 9.1%; girls, 9.9%). However, the median proportion of non-22 kDa GH isoforms was significantly higher in pubertal boys (9.1%) than in prepubertal boys (7.2%; P = 0.03). In pubertal boys, height S.D. scores (SDS) were inversely correlated to the proportion of non-22 kDa GH isoforms (r = -0.38; P = 0.02), especially at mid-puberty (r = -0.7; P = 0.01), indicating that the presence of increased amounts of circulating non-22 kDa GH isoforms was associated with less growth. In prepubertal children, positive correlations between non-22 kDa GH and weight SDS (r = 0.46; P = 0.03), weight-for-height SDS (r = 0.51; P = 0.01) and body mass index (r = 0.42; P = 0.04) were observed. No significant correlations were seen with spontaneous GH secretion or measurements of IGF-1, IGF-binding protein-3, insulin and leptin. These findings in normal children indicate that the proportion of circulating non-22 kDa GH isoforms may have physiologic significance for growth and metabolism in different stages of development, and emphasize the importance of evaluating the circulating ratio of 22 kDa and non-22 kDa GH in children with growth disorders.

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R Bjarnason, M Boguszewski, J Dahlgren, L Gelander, B Kristrom, S Rosberg, B Carlsson, K Albertsson-Wikland and LM Carlsson

OBJECTIVE: Nutritional status is an important determinant of growth, and previous studies have indicated that this is due, at least in part, to an increased target-tissue sensitivity to GH. An attractive candidate for mediating this effect is leptin, a hormone secreted by the adipose tissue. The aim of this study was to investigate if there was a connection between GH-binding protein (GHBP) and leptin. DESIGN AND METHODS: We investigated the relationship between serum levels of leptin and those of GHBP in 229 prepubertal children. These included 107 healthy children with normal GH secretion, 55 GH-deficient (GHD) children and 55 children born small for gestational age (SGA) sampled on one occasion for GHBP and leptin, and 12 healthy children followed longitudinally at monthly interval for 1 year. RESULTS: In the healthy children and in those born SGA, the serum concentration of GHBP was positively correlated with that of leptin (r = 0.65, P < 0.001; r = 0.74, P < 0.001 respectively). There was no correlation between GHBP and leptin in the group of children with GHD (r = 0.27, not significant). This means that leptin alone explained 42% of the variation of GHBP in the healthy group and 55% in the SGA group. The correlation remained after adjustment for body mass index and age in the healthy children (r = 0.57, P < 0.0001, r2 = 0.33) and for children born SGA (r = 0.74, P < 0.0001, r2 = 0.55). There was a positive correlation between the intra-individual monthly changes in GHBP and changes in leptin respectively, in the 12 healthy children followed longitudinally, the mean of the correlation coefficients was 0.38 (median = 0.29; range 0.03 to 0.86; P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: There was a highly significant correlation between serum levels of leptin and those of GHBP, except in children with GHD. The possibility that leptin could mediate the effects of body fat mass on GH sensitivity, therefore, merits further investigation.

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C Karlsson, K Stenlof, G Johannsson, P Marin, P Bjorntorp, BA Bengtsson, B Carlsson, LM Carlsson and L Sjostrom

The present study has examined the short- and long-term effects of growth hormone (GH) treatment on the leptin system and energy expenditure. Thirty male individuals with abdominal obesity were randomised to GH or placebo treatment in a 9-month, double-blind study. The dose of GH was 9.5 microg/kg, administered subcutaneously every evening. Serum leptin concentrations were measured by a human leptin RIA. Total RNA was isolated from adipose tissue biopsies and leptin mRNA levels were determined by a semi-quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR assay. Body composition was determined by potassium-40 and the basal metabolic rate (BMR) was measured by a computerised, ventilated, open-hood system. As compared with placebo, an overall decrease in serum leptin concentrations as assessed by the area under the curve (AUC) (P < 0.05) and an increase in BMR (AUC, P < 0.05) were observed during GH treatment. The overall GH-induced changes were due to marked changes in serum leptin concentrations and BMR after 6 weeks of treatment. After 9 months of GH treatment there was a significant reduction in body fat (BF) while serum leptin concentrations and BMR did not differ from baseline values. Leptin mRNA levels did not change over the study period. We speculate that long-term GH treatment induces a new energy balance steady state with decreased BF stores. The effects of GH on the leptin system is suggested to be of importance for the maintenance of a lower BF mass.

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L. Carlsson-Bostedt, N. Frölander, S. Edén, T. Stigbrand and B. von Schoultz

Abstract. The serum concentrations of pregnancy-associated murine protein-1 (PAMP-1), acute phase α2macroglobulin, albumin, transferrin, and complement factor 3(C3) were followed in male rats during continuous infusions of oestradiol-17β and human growth hormone. Three different patterns of protein response could be distinguished. A distinct acute phase response without any additive influence of the given hormones was recorded for α2-macroglobulin, whereas the levels of albumin, transferrin and C3 were virtually unaffected throughout the experiment. Growth hormone gave a rapid and pronounced increase of PAMP-1 levels, whereas the response to oestradiol of this 'steroid-sensitive' protein was significantly weaker and delayed. It is suggested that the apparent oestrogenic influence on certain pregnancy-associated plasma proteins is mediated via growth hormone.