Review Article

Leptin, cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes mellitus

1 Second Propedeutic Department of Internal Medicine, Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Hippocration Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece
2 Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Royal Free Hospital Campus, University College London Medical School, University College London (UCL), London, UK
3 Department of Hypertension, Medical University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland
Correspondence to: Dimitri P MIKHAILIDIS:,
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2018.40
Received: 18 February 2018
Accepted: 2 May 2018
Advance online: 7 June 2018


Leptin, an adipokine that is implicated in the control of food intake via appetite suppression, may also stimulate oxidative stress, inflammation, thrombosis, arterial stiffness, angiogenesis and atherogenesis. These leptin-induced effects may predispose to the development of cardiovascular diseases. In the present review we discuss the evidence linking leptin levels with the presence, severity and/or prognosis of both coronary artery disease and non-cardiac vascular diseases such as stroke, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease (PAD) and abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) as well as with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Leptin levels have been positively associated with the presence, severity, extent and lesion complexity of coronary atherosclerosis as well as with the presence, severity and poor clinical outcomes of both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes. But conflicting results also exist. Furthermore, leptin was reported to independently predict common carotid intima-media thickness and carotid plaque instability. A link between hyperleptinemia and PAD has been reported, whereas limited data were available on the potential association between leptin and AAA. Elevated leptin concentrations have also been related to CKD incidence and progression as well as with insulin resistance, T2DM, micro- and macrovascular diabetic complications. Statins and antidiabetic drugs (including sitagliptin, metformin, pioglitazone, liraglutide and empagliflozin) may affect leptin levels. Further research is needed to establish the potential use (if any) of leptin as a therapeutic target in these diseases.
Keywords: leptin; coronary heart disease; stroke; peripheral artery disease; carotid artery disease; chronic kidney disease; abdominal aortic aneurysms; obesity

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