AIMS To investigate the effect of maternal diabetes on leptin in term newborns and to determine whether leptin correlates with insulin and its associated biochemical parameters in support of the hypothesis that a functional “adipoinsular axis” might exist at this stage of development.
METHODS A total of 116 term newborns were prospectively enrolled and categorised into three groups: 44 were infants of non-diabetic mothers (control group C); 41 were infants born to mothers with gestational diabetes on dietary treatment (group D); and 31 were infants born to mothers with gestational or pregestational diabetes on insulin treatment (group I).
RESULTS No significant difference in serum leptin was observed between the three groups; the results of the study population were therefore pooled and analysed. Serum leptin correlated significantly with serum insulin, insulin:glucose ratio, birth weight, body length, body mass index, placenta weight, and maternal HbA1c. Female infants had significantly higher serum leptin than male infants. All parameters except placenta weight and body length remained significantly associated with serum leptin when multivariate stepwise regression analysis was applied. Subgroup analysis revealed a significant correlation between serum leptin and cortisol in group D.
CONCLUSIONS There was no significant difference in serum leptin between infants born to diabetic and non-diabetic mothers, though infants born to mothers requiring insulin treatment had the highest median serum leptin concentrations. The significant association between serum leptin and insulin or insulin:glucose ratio supports the hypothesis that a functional adipoinsular axis might exist in term newborns. Furthermore, the significant correlation between maternal HbA1c and circulating leptin of the studied infants suggests that the clinical control of maternal diabetes could affect the regulation of serum leptin in these infants.
Key message An active “adipoinsular axis” is likely to exist in term newborns. The clinical control of maternal diabetes may affect the regulation of serum leptin and possibly may also influence the growth of the fetus in utero
- adipoinsular axis
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