Leptin interacts with heart rate but not sympathetic nerve traffic in healthy male subjects

Krzysztof Narkiewicz, Masahiko Kato, Bradley G. Phillips, Catherine A. Pesek, Ian Choe, Mikolaj Winnicki, Paolo Palatini, William I. Sivitz, Virend K. Somers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Objective: Administration of leptin to animals increases sympathetic nerve activity and heart rate. We therefore tested the hypothesis that plasma leptin is linked independently to muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) and heart rate in healthy humans. Methods: We measured plasma leptin, plasma insulin, body mass index (BMI), percent body fat, waist:hip ratio, MSNA, heart rate and blood pressure in 88 healthy individuals (50 men and 38 women). Results: In men, plasma leptin concentration correlated significantly with BM I (r = 0.75, P < 0.001), percent body fat (r = 0.70, P < 0.001), waist:hip ratio (r = 0.69, P < 0.001), insulin (r= 0.37, P= 0.009), and age (r= 0.38, P= 0.006). Only BMI and waist: hip ratio were linked independently to plasma leptin concentration (r = 0.78, P < 0.001). Plasma leptin concentrations also correlated with heart rate (r= 0.39, P= 0.006) and mean arterial pressure (MAP; r= 0.38, P= 0.007), but not with MSNA (r= 0.17, P= 0.24). After adjustment for BMI and waist:hip ratio, plasma leptin concentration correlated significantly only with heart rate (r= 0.29, P= 0.04), and not with MAP (r= 0.21, P= 0.14). Individuals were divided into high-leptin and low-leptin subgroups on the basis of plasma leptin concentrations adjusted for BMI and waist:hip ratio. Those with high leptin concentrations had significantly faster heart rates than those with low leptin. MAP and MSNA were similar in both subgroups. No relationship between leptin and either heart rate or MSNA was evident in women. Conclusions: In normal men, heart rate, but not MSNA, is linked to plasma leptin concentration. This sex-specific relationship between heart rate and plasma leptin is independent of plasma insulin, BMI, waist: hip ratio and percentage body fat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1089-1094
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of hypertension
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001


  • Heart rate
  • Hypertension
  • Leptin
  • Sympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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