Alterations in serum leptin in chronic liver disease

Ziv Ben-Ari*, Zahava Schafer, Jaqueline Sulkes, Varda Manhaim, Ran Tur-Kaspa, Menahem Fainaru

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of leptin in anorexia associated with liver cirrhosis remains controversial. The aim of this study was to quantify the serum leptin level in patients with hepatocellular or cholestatic liver disease and to assess its relationship with serum insulin, body mass index, and serum lipoproteins. The study population included 30 women, 15 with chronic hepatocellular liver disease and 15 with primary biliary cirrhosis; severity of disease was determined by Child-Pugh and histological criteria, respectively. Ten healthy, age-matched women served as controls. Levels of serum leptin and insulin were determined by radioimmunoassay. Mean serum leptin level was significantly lower in the primary biliary cirrhosis group compared to both the control (P ≤ 0.05) and the hepatocellular groups (P ≤ 0.05). Serum leptin level strongly correlated with body mass index in the hepatocellular group (P < 0.0001) and the controls (P < 0.001), but not in the primary biliary cirrhosis group; it showed no correlation with severity of liver disease. A positive correlation was found between serum leptin and serum cholesterol (P = 0.02), low density lipoprotein (P = 0.01), and triglycerides (P = 0.04) in the hepatocellular group and in the controls between serum leptin and serum high density lipoproteins (P = 0.01). Serum leptin is low in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis. The combined findings of normal insulin response less insulin resistance, and lower serum leptin level in primary biliary cirrhosis compared to hepatocellular liver disease may indicate that serum leptin is merely a passive marker and not a cause of anorexia in liver disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-189
Number of pages7
JournalDigestive Diseases and Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Leptin
  • Liver disease


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