The recently cloned adipose tissue hormone leptin has been proposed to be involved in the neuroendocrine regulation of adiposity and its metabolic sequelae. Visceral fat is known to predict reduced insulin sensitivity and associated adverse metabolic profiles. In this study, we report the first evaluation of the relationships between leptin levels and total body fat, visceral fat, and insulin sensitivity in a cohort of premenopausal African- American women. Thirty-four subjects were analyzed for total fat mass and visceral fat by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and computerized axial tomography, respectively. Insulin sensitivity (S(I)) was assessed using Bergman's minimal model. Results showed that fasting leptin levels strongly correlated with total body fat mass (r = 0.797, P < 0.001). Correlations of leptin with visceral fat (r = 0.54, P < 0.001) and S(I) (r = -0.419, P = 0.02) were dependent on total body fat. In conclusion, leptin levels reflect total body fat mass, and although visceral fat is known to predict reduced insulin sensitivity independently, leptin did not. Our data thus suggest that diverse mechanisms are responsible for the regulation of total body versus visceral fat distribution, with its metabolic and health risks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism