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Hepatology. 2002 Aug;36(2):403-9.

Serum leptin in NASH correlates with hepatic steatosis but not fibrosis: a manifestation of lipotoxicity?

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Storr Liver Unit, Westmead Millennium Institute, University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital, New South Wales, Australia.

Erratum in

  • Hepatology 2002 Nov;36(5):1307.
  • Hepatology 2002 Oct;36(4 Pt 1):1034.


Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a disorder characterized by hepatic steatosis, inflammation, and fibrosis. Leptin is an adipocyte-derived antiobesity hormone that in rodents prevents "lipotoxicity" by limiting triglyceride accumulation and also regulates matrix deposition (fibrosis) during wound healing. We therefore determined serum leptin levels in patients with NASH to determine whether relationships existed between leptin levels and severity of hepatic steatosis or fibrosis. We used a radioimmunoassay to determine serum [total] leptin concentrations in 27 men and 20 women with NASH and 47 controls matched for gender and body mass index (BMI; and partly for age). Serum leptin values were correlated with hepatic steatosis, fibrosis, and inflammation (each categorized semiquantitatively on liver histology), and with anthropometric indices, serum lipids, glucose, insulin, c-peptide, and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels. Compared with the controls, mean serum leptin levels were raised in both men and women with NASH (men 14 +/- 11 ng/mL vs. 7.2 +/- 4.1 ng/mL, P =.003; women 35 +/- 16 ng/mL vs. 15 +/- 8.2 ng/mL, P <.001). Leptin values correlated with serum c-peptide levels but not with BMI. In a multivariate analysis, serum leptin (P =.027), serum c-peptide (P =.001), and age (P =.027) were selected as independent predictors of the severity of hepatic steatosis. However, serum leptin was not an independent predictor of hepatic inflammation or fibrotic severity. In conclusion, hyperleptinemia occurs in NASH and is not explained simply by gender, obesity, or the presence of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, leptin levels correlate directly with the severity of hepatic steatosis but not with inflammation or fibrosis. We propose that the relationship between leptin and steatosis reflects a pathogenic role of leptin in hepatic insulin resistance and/or a failure of the antisteatotic actions of leptin ("peripheral leptin resistance").

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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