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The effects of thyroid status on plasma leptin levels in women

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Leptin, the product of the adipose specific ob gene, regulates food intake and energy expenditure. However, little is known about the effects of thyroid status on plasma leptin levels in women. We determined fasting plasma leptin levels before and 1 month after restoration of euthyroidism in 20 female patients with hypothyroidism, 20 female patients with hyperthyroidism and 20 age and BMI — matched female controls. To restore the normal thyroid function patients with hypothyroidism were treated with levothyroxine, whereas patients with hyperthyroidism were treated with propylthiouracil. Plasma leptin levels were measured by a RIA method with a sensitivity of 0.5 µg/l. Leptin levels were significantly lower in patients with hypothyroidism before treatment (4.17±2.58 µg/l) than in patients with hyperthyroidism (6.80±4.3 µg/l; z= −2.06, p=0.037). Leptin levels were significantly higher in hyperthyroid patients than in the control group (3.71±1.69 µ/l, z= −2.44, p=0.014) whereas leptin levels in the hypothyroid patients were not significantly different from those in control subjects (z= −0.16, p=0.87). Restoration of euthyroid state was not associated with a significant change in leptin levels either in the hypothyroid (from 4.17±2.58 to 5.22±3.4 µg/l; z= −1,74, p=0.08) or in the hyperthyroid group (from 6.80±4.37 µg/l to 7.93±6.25 µg/l z= −0.89, p=0.37), although a tendency for leptin to increase was observed in both groups. There was no correlation between plasma leptin and FT3, FT4, TSH, or BMI either before or after therapy in both groups. Leptin levels were significantly correlated with BMI in the control group (r= −0.53, p=0.018). We conclude that plasma leptin levels are increased in hyperthyroidism and unchanged in hypothyroidism. Furthermore, our study demonstrates that mean plasma leptin levels are not influenced by short term restoration of euthyroidism in both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, although an effect of long-term treatment may not be excluded.

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Ozata, M., Ozisik, G., Bingol, N. et al. The effects of thyroid status on plasma leptin levels in women. J Endocrinol Invest 21, 337–341 (1998).

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