Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2012 Apr;76(4):520-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2011.04182.x.

Leptin levels are associated with decreased depressive symptoms in women across the weight spectrum, independent of body fat.

Author information

  • 1Neuroendocrine Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



Leptin is anorexigenic, and levels are markedly decreased in women with low body weight and high in women with obesity. Ghrelin opposes leptin effects on appetite and is negatively associated with body mass index. These appetite-regulating hormones may have opposing effects on mood and stress pathways. Women with anorexia nervosa (AN), hypothalamic amenorrhoea (HA) and obesity are at increased risk of depression and anxiety. It is unknown whether dysregulation of leptin or ghrelin contributes to the development of depression and/or anxiety in these disorders. We investigated the relationship between leptin and ghrelin levels and symptoms of depression, anxiety and perceived stress in women across the weight spectrum.




64 women: 15 with AN, 12 normal-weight with HA, 17 overweight or obese (OB) and 20 normal-weight in good health (HC).


Fasting serum leptin and plasma ghrelin levels were measured. Hamilton Rating Scales for Depression (HAM-D) and Anxiety (HAM-A) and the Perceived Stress Scale were administered.


Leptin levels were inversely associated with HAM-D, HAM-A and Perceived Stress scores. The negative relationships between leptin and severity of symptoms of both depression and anxiety remained significant after controlling for body fat or weight. There was no relationship between ghrelin and symptoms of depression or anxiety. Although ghrelin levels were positively associated with the degree of perceived stress, this relationship was not significant after controlling for body fat or weight.


Leptin may mediate depressive symptoms across the weight spectrum. Further investigation of the role of leptin in modulating mood will be important.

© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk