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Hoppin AG. Kaplan LM. Zurakowski D. Leichtner AM. Bousvaros A.
Combined Program in Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114-2696, USA.
BACKGROUND: Pediatric inflammatory bowel disease is often associated with growth failure and inadequate energy intake. Although several circulating cytokines are known to be elevated in inflammatory bowel disease, the mechanism for the related anorexia has not been described. Leptin is a newly recognized circulating protein that is an important regulator of appetite and energy metabolism; leptin levels are elevated in several animal models of inflammation. This study was conducted to determine whether serum leptin levels are elevated in young patients with inflammatory bowel disease. METHODS: One hundred twelve children and young adults with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis were studied prospectively. Forty-two patients with other gastrointestinal illnesses were used as control subjects. Height, weight, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, serum albumin concentration, and clinical information were collected prospectively, and leptin was measured by radioimmunoassay of stored serum. RESULTS: No significant differences in leptin levels were found among disease groups or control subjects. Body mass index and gender were the only independent predictors of serum leptin in all groups examined. Disease activity varied inversely with serum leptin in patients with Crohn's disease, but these differences were explained entirely by variations in body mass index. CONCLUSIONS: The determinants of serum leptin were the same in young patients with inflammatory bowel disease as in normal populations, indicating that alterations in leptin levels are unlikely to mediate the anorexia and growth failure associated with this disease.