The changes in serum leptin levels during growth hormone (GH) treatment were studied in 27 children, 17 with GH deficiency (GHD), 10 with idiopathic short stature (ISS), and 9 with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). Within 1 month of GH treatment, serum leptin levels decreased by 40% in the GHD children (p < 0.01). There was no significant change in serum leptin level in the children with ISS. In children with PWS, the mean serum leptin level decreased by almost 60% after 3 months of treatment (p < 0.001). Thereafter, no further decline was observed in any of the 3 groups. Changes in body composition became evident first after the 3 months of treatment. In the GHD children, the BMI was unchanged while the mean body fat percentage was 2.7% lower after 1 year of GH treatment (p < 0.05). In the ISS children, neither BMI nor body fat percentage were significantly changed during treatment. The PWS children exhibited a significant decrease in BMI after 6 months of GH treatment without any further change during the remaining period of treatment. In this group, the mean body fat percentage decreased from 42 ± 2.4 to 28 ± 2.2% after treatment (p < 0.001). The finding that the fall in leptin occurs before changes in body composition become detectable suggests a direct effect of GH on leptin production, metabolism, or clearance.

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