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Cerebrospinal fluid and plasma leptin measurements: covariability with dopamine and cortisol in fasting humans.


Leptin (OB protein) is an important signal in the regulation of energy balance. Leptin levels correlate with adiposity, but also decrease acutely with caloric restriction and increase with refeeding. The brain is an established critical site of leptin function, yet little is known about leptin concentrations in the central nervous system relative to plasma levels, psychiatric diagnoses, and other endocrine parameters. Therefore, using a novel ultrasensitive leptin assay, we explored relationships of human plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leptin levels to body mass index, smoking, posttraumatic stress disorder diagnosis, and levels of dopamine, monoamine metabolites, beta-lipotropin, glucocorticoid, and thyroid and cytokine hormones. A strong linear relation between CSF and plasma leptin levels in the am (r = 0.63; P < 0.002) and afternoon (r = 0.90; P < 0.0001) was revealed. CSF and plasma leptin concentrations decreased during a 12- to 20-h period of fasting. A strong association was found between plasma leptin and CSF dopamine levels (r = 0.74; P < 0.01) as well as between CSF leptin levels and urinary free cortisol (r = 0.73; P < 0.01). Both of these parameters covaried with leptin independently of adiposity, as estimated by body mass index. Implications for leptin transport, regulation, and its potential role in therapeutic strategies for obesity and diabetes are discussed.

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