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Pediatr Res. 2000 Nov;48(5):646-51.

Fetal plasma leptin concentrations: relationship with different intrauterine growth patterns from 19 weeks to term.

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1
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ospedale San Paolo, Milan, Italy.

Abstract

The relationship between in utero fetal growth and fetal leptin concentrations was investigated between 19 and 41 wk in 40 normal (appropriate for gestational age, AGA) fetuses, in 25 intrauterine growth-restricted (IUGR) fetuses, and in 18 fetuses from gestational diabetic mothers (GDM), representing different intrauterine growth patterns. Umbilical venous plasma leptin concentrations were determined at the time of either in utero fetal blood sampling or delivery. Plasma leptin was measurable as early as 19 wk of gestation. A significant difference was observed between umbilical venous and arterial plasma leptin concentrations (0.6+/-0.6 ng/mL; p<0.01). In AGA and in IUGR fetuses, significant positive relationships were found between fetal leptin concentrations and both gestational age (p<0.001) and fetal weight (p<0.001). Leptin concentrations were significantly higher in AGA than IUGR only after 34 wk (p<0.05), but leptin per kilogram fetal weight (leptin/kg) was not significantly different. In IUGR with abnormal umbilical arterial Doppler velocimetry and fetal heart rate, leptin/kg significantly higher than in IUGR with normal biophysical and biochemical parameters was found (p<0.05). Both circulating plasma leptin and leptin/kg were significantly higher in GDM than in normal fetuses (p<0.001) and correlated with abdominal fat mass measured by ultrasound. No gender differences were observed in any group of fetuses. These findings indicate a clear relationship between fetal leptin concentrations and fetal fat mass. Data in severe IUGR suggest the presence of increased leptin concentrations associated with in utero signs of fetal distress.

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