Relationship between leptin levels and bone mineral density in the elderly


Elena Zoico, Cattedra di Geriatria, Università di Verona, Ospedale Maggiore – Piazzale Stefani 1, 37126 Verona, Italy. Tel: +3945 8072537; Fax: +3945 8072043; E-mail:


objective To assess the relationship between circulating leptin levels, bone mineral content and density in the elderly.

design A cross-sectional study.

patients A cohort of 92 men and 171 women, with ages ranging from 68 to 75 years, selected as a healthy and normal functioning group, in the city centre of Verona.

measurements Plasma leptin levels were determined in each participant. Body composition was evaluated with dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) were measured at whole-body, hip and femoral neck level in all subjects.

results In both men and women a significant relationship between fat mass and whole-body BMC or BMD was found. The strength of this association was consistently reduced after adjustment for plasma leptin. A significant association between circulating leptin levels, whole-body, total hip and femoral neck BMC and BMD was found in both sexes. This association retained the statistical significance after adjustment for fat mass percentage, especially in women. In stepwise multiple linear regression analyses, leptin was shown to be a significant predictor of whole-body, total hip and femoral neck BMC and BMD, independently of age and the percentage of body fat in both sexes. The circulating levels of leptin accounted for a variance in whole-body BMC of 8·9% in men and 18·2% in women, and in whole-body BMD of 10·6% in women.

conclusion Our data show a significant relationship between leptin, bone mineral mass and density in healthy elderly men and women.