Sex differences in circulating human leptin pulse amplitude: Clinical implications

Julio Licinio, André B. Negrão, Christos Mantzoros, Virginia Kaklamani, Ma Li Wong, Peter B. Bongiorno, Paula P. Negro, Abeda Mulla, Johannes D. Veldhuis, Laura Cearnal, Jeffrey S. Flier, Philip W. Gold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations


Leptin, a product of fat cells, provides a signal of nutritional status to the central nervous system. Leptin concentrations have ultradian and diurnal fluctuations. We conducted this study to assess sex differences in the levels of organization of frequently sampled leptin concentrations in healthy, normal weight women and men. Leptin levels were sampled every 7 min for 24 h in 14 healthy, normal weight individuals (6 women and 8 men). The 14 leptin time series containing a total of 2898 leptin measurements were assessed by 1) algorithms that characterize statistically significant pulsatility, 2) Spectral (Fourier) analysis, 3) analysis of time intervals and variability, and 4) approximate entropy. We found that frequently sampled plasma leptin concentrations have a 24-h profile that is numerically more than twice as high in women as in men, and leptin pulse amplitude is likewise more than twice as high in women. However, healthy men and women have nearly identical concentration-independent and frequency-related 24-h and ultradian patterns. Leptin concentrations have nonrandom fluctuations over 24 h, independent of their absolute value and underlying 24-h periodicity, that are similar in men and women. Ultradian periodicities detected by Fourier time series have similar values in men and women. The strongest distinction between the sexes in the level of organization of leptin concentration is not at the level of pulse organization or oscillation frequency, but, rather, in the mass or amount of leptin released (or removed) per unit time, indicating that women might be more resistant to the effects ofleptin than men. Because leptin is clinically relevant to the regulation of body weight, future studies should examine whether the relative leptin resistance exhibited by women might contribute to their increased susceptibility to disorders whose pathophysiology involves dysregulation of food intake and body weight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4140-4147
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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