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      Gender, smoking during pregnancy and gestational age influence cord leptin concentrations in newborn infants


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          Low birth weight (BW), small head circumference, reduced length, increased preterm births and neuro-endocrine dysfunctions are among known consequences of smoking during pregnancy. Few studies have linked leptin to clinical features of growth restriction associated with maternal smoking and explored interaction with other determinants of size at birth, such as gender.


          Cord serum leptin concentrations were measured in 1215 term infants born to Caucasian mothers at completion of uneventful pregnancy. Serum concentrations were related to BW, gestational length, gender and maternal smoking and interaction with other determinants of size at birth evaluated.


          Smoking was more frequent in younger ( P<0.001) and shorter mothers ( P=0.03) from lower socio-economic groups (SEGPs) ( P<0.001). Infants born to smokers were lighter (190 g less), shorter and with smaller head circumference. Cord serum leptin concentrations were higher in girls (9.8 s.d. 7.6 ng/ml) than in boys (7.05 s.d. 5.8 ng/ml) ( P<0.001). Boys were heavier (BW 3.52 s.d. 0.49 kg) than girls (3.39 s.d. 0.44 kg) ( P<0.001), but girls had greater skinfold thickness measurements (sub-scapular and quadriceps skinfold thicknesses 5.5 s.d. 1.6 mm and 7.6 s.d. 1.9 mm respectively; boys 5.3 s.d. 1.6 vs 7.24±1.90 mm, P<0.001 respectively). Multivariate analyses showed gender ( P<0.001), BW SDS ( P<0.001), gestational length ( P<0.001) and maternal smoking ( P<0.042) as factors that influenced umbilical cord serum leptin concentrations in newborns.


          Maternal smoking restrains foetal growth through placental vascular effects, and likely also via associated effects on leptin metabolism. More studies are needed to determine the influence that maternal smoking may have on placental syncytiotrophoblast and foetal adipose tissue.

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          Most cited references32

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          Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia (syndrome X): relation to reduced fetal growth

          Two follow-up studies were carried out to determine whether lower birthweight is related to the occurrence of syndrome X-Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia. The first study included 407 men born in Hertfordshire, England between 1920 and 1930 whose weights at birth and at 1 year of age had been recorded by health visitors. The second study included 266 men and women born in Preston, UK, between 1935 and 1943 whose size at birth had been measured in detail. The prevalence of syndrome X fell progressively in both men and women, from those who had the lowest to those who had the highest birthweights. Of 64-year-old men whose birthweights were 2.95 kg (6.5 pounds) or less, 22% had syndrome X. Their risk of developing syndrome X was more than 10 times greater than that of men whose birthweights were more than 4.31 kg (9.5 pounds). The association between syndrome X and low birthweight was independent of duration of gestation and of possible confounding variables including cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and social class currently or at birth. In addition to low birthweight, subjects with syndrome X had small head circumference and low ponderal index at birth, and low weight and below-average dental eruption at 1 year of age. It is concluded that Type 2 diabetes and hypertension have a common origin in sub-optimal development in utero, and that syndrome X should perhaps be re-named "the small-baby syndrome".
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            Leptin secretion from subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue in women.

            Upper body obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Little is known about the regulation of body fat distribution, but leptin may be involved. This study examined the secretion of leptin in subcutaneous and omental fat tissue in 15 obese and 8 nonobese women. Leptin secretion rates were two to three times higher in subcutaneous than in omental fat tissue in both obese and nonobese women (P < 0.0001 and P < 0.001, respectively). There was a positive correlation between BMI and leptin secretion rates in both subcutaneous (r = 0.87, P < 0.0001) and omental (r = 0.74, P < 0.0001) fat tissue. Furthermore, leptin secretion rates in subcutaneous and omental fat tissue correlated well with serum leptin levels (r = 0.84, P < 0.0001 and r = 0.73, P = 0.001, respectively), although in multivariate analysis, the subcutaneous leptin secretion rate was the major regressor for serum leptin (F = 42). Subcutaneous fat cells were approximately 50% larger than omental fat cells, and there was a positive correlation between fat cell size and leptin secretion rate in both fat depots (r = 0.8, P < 0.01). Leptin (but not gamma-actin) mRNA levels were twofold higher in subcutaneous than in omental fat tissue (P < 0.05). Thus the subcutaneous fat depot is the major source of leptin in women owing to the combination of a mass effect (subcutaneous fat being the major depot) and a higher secretion rate in the subcutaneous than in the visceral region, which in turn could be due to increased cell size and leptin gene expression.
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              Oxygen and placental villous development: origins of fetal hypoxia.

              The increasing practice of preterm delivery in the fetal interest for conditions such as pre-eclampsia or intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) has provided an opportunity to study placental structure in pregnancies with prenatal evidence of fetal compromise. These data suggest that the origin of fetal hypoxia in IUGR with absent end-diastolic flow in the umbilical arteries is due to a failure of oxygen transport from intervillous space to umbilical vein. Failure of the fetoplacental circulation to extract oxygen from the intervillous space under such circumstances means intervillous PO2 is closer to maternal arterial values than under physiological conditions. Correspondingly the placental villi are chronically exposed to a higher oxygen tension than under normal circumstances--the term ¿hyperoxia', relative to normal intraplacental oxygenation, is proposed to describe this situation. Both the trophoblast and villous core react to increased oxygen despite fetal hypoxia. These results challenge the generally accepted concept of ¿placental hypoxia' in all circumstances where fetal hypoxia might arise. Therefore three categories are proposed for the origins of fetal hypoxia: (1) preplacental hypoxia; (2) uteroplacental hypoxia; and (3) postplacental hypoxia. Examples for these three disease states are listed in this review and the structural reaction patterns of placental villi to these differences in oxygenation are discussed.

                Author and article information

                Eur J Endocrinol
                European Journal of Endocrinology
                BioScientifica (Bristol )
                September 2008
                : 159
                : 3
                : 217-224
                [1]simpleLondon Centre for Paediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism at Institute of Child Health, University College London London, W1T 3AAUK
                [ 1 ]simpleDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Rotunda Hospital Dublin 1Ireland
                [ 2 ]simpleDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University College London London, W1T 3AAUK
                [ 3 ]simpleProgram in Development and Fetal Health, Samuel Lunefield Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto TorontoCanadaM5G 1X5
                Author notes
                (Correspondence should be addressed to P C Hindmarsh who is now at BEM Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London, 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, UK; Email: p.hindmarsh@ 123456ucl.ac.uk )
                © 2008 European Society of Endocrinology

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the European Journal of Endocrinology's Re-use Licence which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 25 April 2008
                : 18 May 2008
                Funded by: British Heart Foundation
                Clinical Studies

                Endocrinology & Diabetes
                Endocrinology & Diabetes


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