In the present study, we characterized the changes in plasma leptin levels in patients with pituitary Cushing's disease and in age- and sex- matched controls. Plasma levels of ACTH, cortisol, and leptin were measured before and after iv administration of ovine CRH in controls once and in patients twice (while they had active hypercortisolism and 10 days after successful surgery). Cushing's patients had elevated body mass indexes (34 ± 1.9 vs. 22.9 ± 0.8) and plasma leptin levels (35.6 ± 3.4 vs. 9.2 ± 1.9 ng/mL) compared to controls, which remained unchanged 10 days after successful transsphenoidal surgery and directly proportional to the body mass index. Plasma leptin levels were not affected by CRH infusion in either the controls or the patients despite clear-cut elevations in plasma ACTH and cortisol. These findings suggest that although acute changes in plasma cortisol do not affect plasma leptin, chronic hypercortisolism results in elevated leptin levels, probably by causing visceral obesity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical