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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000 Oct;24(10):1254-9.

Hormonal regulation of human leptin in vivo: effects of hydrocortisone and insulin.

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  • 1Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.



To investigate the effects of continuous i.v. infusion of hydrocortisone or insulin on leptin secretion in humans.


Six, nonfasting healthy adults (four women, two men), aged (mean +/- s.e.m.) 36.6 +/- 1.7 y; body mass index (BMI) 27.6 +/- 0.9 kg/m2.


Randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over study, with a 2-week 'wash-out' period.


Intravenous infusion of hydrocortisone (3.3 microg/(kg min)), insulin (1 mU/(kg min)) or normal saline (placebo) for 24 h.


Blood sampling every 1-2 h for measurement of glucose, insulin, cortisol and leptin; subcutaneous abdominal fat biopsy for determination of leptin mRNA expression.


Plasma cortisol increased to 50.0 +/- 0.4 microg/dl during hydrocortisone infusion, but was unaltered during saline or insulin infusion. The plasma insulin levels were: 28.5 +/- 4.7 microU/ml (placebo), 40.8 +/- 9.2 microU/ml (hydrocortisone, P=0.214), and 243 +/- 23.0 microU/ml (insulin, P=0.0002). Peak hyperleptinemia occurred after 16h of insulin and 20h of hydrocortisone infusion; peak/baseline plasma leptin levels (ng/ml) were 18.2 +/- 4.2/15.1 +/- 3.3 (placebo, P=0.056), 42.1 +/- 7.0/16.0 +/- 3.8 (hydrocortisone, + 163%, P= 0.008) and 30.2 +/- 4.3/16.6 +/- 2.7 (insulin, +83%, P= 0.024). Adipocyte leptin mRNA increased by 350% after the hydrocortisone infusion.


Hydrocortisone, a natural glucocorticoid, induces hyperleptinemia in vivo, with a potency greater than that of insulin. The interaction between glucocorticoids and leptin may be of metabolic significance in humans.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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