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M Neuhauser-Berthold, BM Herbert, PM Luhrmann, AA Sultemeier, WF Blum, J Frey and J Hebebrand

OBJECTIVE: The present study investigated the relationship between serum leptin concentrations and resting metabolic rate (RMR) in a large study group of elderly individuals with special consideration of body composition and body fat distribution as possible confounders. DESIGN AND METHODS: The subjects were 122 women (age: 69+/-6 years, body mass index (BMI): 26.3+/-3.6 kg/m(2)) and 82 men (age: 69+/-5 years, BMI: 26.0+/-2.6 kg/m(2)). RMR was measured by indirect calorimetry and body composition by the bioelectrical impedance method. Serum leptin levels were determined by radioimmunoassay. RESULTS: There was a strong correlation between fat mass (FM) and serum leptin levels in both sexes. An age-related decline in leptin levels adjusted for FM was observed only in the women. After adjustment of RMR for both fat-free mass (FFM) and FM, leptin levels were not associated with RMR. In stepwise multiple regression analysis, FFM was the main predictor of RMR, explaining 35.8% and 47.6% of the variance of RMR in men and women respectively. FM did not explain variance in RMR in men, but accounted for 2.6% of the variance in RMR in women. Waist-hip-ratio and age influenced RMR only in males, explaining 5.7% and 4.0% of the variance in RMR respectively. CONCLUSION: Leptin is not a significant predictor of RMR in the elderly, but body composition and distribution of body fat are significantly associated with RMR.

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A Hamann, H Munzberg, P Buttron, B Busing, A Hinney, H Mayer, W Siegfried, J Hebebrand and H Greten

The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma2 (PPARgamma2) is almost uniquely expressed in adipose tissue and is of major importance for fat cell differentiation and lipid metabolism. This study was undertaken to assess whether two missense variants in the PPARgamma2 gene are associated with early-onset obesity. A previously described polymorphism encoding for an amino acid exchange in codon 12 (Pro12Ala) was detected with allele frequencies of 0.13 in 296 markedly obese children and adolescents and 0.14 in 130 lean individuals. A Pro115Gln variant, which had been linked to obesity in Germans in a previous association study, was not detected in any of our obese or lean subjects, who are also of German origin. We conclude from our data that these two variants in the PPARgamma2 gene are unlikely to contribute to the high prevalence of early-onset obesity.

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S Herpertz, N Albers, R Wagner, B Pelz, W Kopp, K Mann, WF Blum, W Senf and J Hebebrand

OBJECTIVE: To study the longitudinal changes in plasma levels of leptin, insulin and cortisol during the transition from the state of starvation to the state of refeeding focussing on diurnal secretion characteristics and their temporal relationships. DESIGN: Leptin, insulin and cortisol were measured every 2h for 24h during acute starvation (T1). Sampling was repeated after reaching half the target-body mass index (BMI) (T2) and again at target-BMI (17. 5kg/m(2); T3). The temporal relationships between the diurnal secretion patterns were assessed by cross-correlation analysis. RESULTS: Although BMIs at T1 were uniformly low, leptin levels varied widely within a range clearly below normal levels (0.03-1. 7microg/l). With increasing body fat during the course of refeeding, mean leptin levels increased from 0.64microg/l (range: 0.27-1. 73microg/l) (T1) to 1.61microg/l (range: 0.36-4.2microg/l) (T2) and to 3.67microg/l (range: 0.7-9.8microg/l) (T3). Circadian leptin secretion patterns showed maximal values uniformly around 0200h and minimal values around 0800h at all stages of the study. At all three weight levels, plasma leptin levels were highest between midnight and the early morning hours and lowest around the late morning hours. Refeeding neither profoundly changed secretion patterns of leptin nor did it change the positive, time-delayed relationship between leptin and insulin with increments in insulin secretion preceding those of leptin by 6h. A temporal relationship between leptin and cortisol could not be demonstrated in the state of semistarvation but emerged after a substantial weight gain; at that time, leptin increases preceded cortisol increases by 8h. CONCLUSIONS: Absolute leptin, insulin and cortisol levels are profoundly changed during starvation in anorectic patients, while refeeding, paralleled by a BMI gain, reverses these changes. During refeeding the relationship between leptin and cortisol changed profoundly, showing no significant correlation in the state of starvation, whereas at T3 after refeeding a strong inverse relationship could be observed. Leptin and insulin did not correlate significantly at any of the three stages studied.

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A Hamann, C Brieske, J Tafel, P Buttron, B Schwarzloh, H Munzberg, A Hinney, H Mayer, W Siegfried, J Hebebrand, H Greten, P Algenstaedt and R Ziegler

OBJECTIVE: The alpha(2)-adrenergic receptors are involved in the effects of catecholamines on energy metabolism. Of three known subtypes with differential expression, alpha(2A)-adrenergic receptors are also localized in adipose tissue where they counteract the lipolytic activity of beta-adrenergic receptors. This study was undertaken to assess whether variants in the alpha(2A)-adrenergic receptor gene are associated with body weight. DESIGN AND METHODS: Single strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) screening and subsequent sequencing were applied to determine genetic variants in DNA samples from individuals with obesity, those of normal weight and those underweight. RESULTS: Analysis of the coding region resulted in the identification of an 18 bp deletion, with no other mutation found. Of 429 genotyped subjects, 7 carried the deletion, with no significant differences between lean and obese subjects. A previously identified polymorphism in the promoter of the alpha(2A)-adrenergic receptor gene also did not show an association with any of the tested body weight categories. CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that variants in the alpha(2A)-adrenergic receptor gene are unlikely to contribute to the predisposition for the lean or obese state.