Context: Several previous studies have investigated circulating levels of the adipokine leptin in relation to gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). However, these studies have yielded markedly conflicting results, including increased, decreased, and unchanged leptin levels in women with GDM as compared with their peers.
Objective: We sought to evaluate the metabolic determinants of serum leptin in a well-characterized cohort reflecting the full spectrum of glucose intolerance in pregnancy.
Design, Setting, and Participants: Metabolic characterization, including oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and measurement of serum leptin, insulin, lipids, adiponectin, and C-reactive protein, was performed in 817 pregnant women. The OGTT identified 198 women with GDM, 142 with gestational impaired glucose tolerance, and 477 with normal glucose tolerance.
Results: Median leptin (ng/ml) did not differ between the normal glucose tolerance (33.7), gestational impaired glucose tolerance (36.3), and GDM (36.4) groups (P= 0.085). On univariate correlation analysis, leptin was most strongly associated with prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) (r = 0.54, P < 0.0001), fasting insulin (r = 0.60, P < 0.0001), and C-reactive protein (r = 0.38, P < 0.0001) but only weakly associated with area under the glucose curve (AUCglucose) on the OGTT (r = 0.10, P = 0.0066). On multiple linear regression analysis, the strongest independent determinant of leptin was prepregnancy BMI (t = 11.55, P < 0.0001), whereas AUCglucose was not a significant predictor (t = −0.95, P = 0.34). Furthermore, although its respective associations with fasting insulin, triglycerides, and adiponectin varied across tertiles of prepregnancy BMI, leptin was not significantly associated with AUCglucose in any BMI tertile.
Conclusions: Pregravid BMI, rather than gestational glucose tolerance, is the primary determinant of serum leptin concentration in pregnancy.