Postnatal changes of leptin levels in full-term and preterm neonates: Their relation to intrauterine growth, gender and testosterone

Tibor Ertl, Simone Funke, Ilona Sárkény, István Szabó, Wolfgang Rascher, Werner F. Blum, Endre Sulyok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

77 Citations (Scopus)


The present study was carried out to investigate leptin levels in arterial and venous cord serum and in amniotic fluid in full-term infants at birth and on the 5th postnatal day to define the relationship of leptin to intrauterine growth rate, gender and early postnatal life. The relation of weight gain to serum leptin levels in male preterm infants was determined measuring leptin concentration weekly in the first 5 postnatal weeks. Testosterone levels were determined simultaneously to explore a possible relationship between leptin and testosterone concentrations. Fifty-three term newborn infants with mean birth weight and gestational age of 3,419 g (range 2,150-4,480) and 38.9 weeks (range 36-41) and 19 preterm male infants (mean birth weight and gestational age were 1,416 g (770-1,800) and 30.2 weeks (26-35) were enrolled into the study. Leptin and testosterone levels were determined by radioimmunoassay. It was demonstrated that serum leptin levels were markedly elevated in the cord blood without discernible arteriovenous differences. Cord blood leptin was found to correlate with birth weight (r = 0.40, p < 0.002), weight to length ratio (r = 0.40, p < 0.002) and body mass index (r = 0.35, p < 0.005). It was significantly lower in boys as opposed to girls (p < 0.01) and there was an apparent fall by the 5th postnatal day (p < 0.001). Amniotic fluid contained leptin in much less concentration than cord blood and it proved to be independent of intrauterine growth or gender. Serum leptin concentration in preterm infants at 1 week of age was significantly lower compared with term infants (p < 0.002) and it increased progressively with age (p < 0.01). An inverse relationship was found between leptin and testosterone level (r = -0.358, p < 0.01) and a positive correlation between leptin level and weight/height ratio (r = 0.674, p < 0.01). It is concluded that leptin derived either from placenta or fetal adipose tissue may be involved in regulating fetal growth and development and it may be related to energy intake, storage and expenditure. In preterm male infants serum leptin concentration increases with postnatal weight and testosterone may suppress leptin synthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-176
Number of pages10
JournalBiology of the neonate
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 1999



  • Gender difference
  • Postnatal changes
  • Serum leptin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental Biology

Cite this