Previous studies have shown that leptin stimulates sympathetic nervous system; heart rate variability (HRV) is a widely used technique for assessing the sympathovagal balance at the cardiac level. The aim of our study was to investigate a possible relationship between plasma leptin levels and the autonomic regulation using spectral analysis of HRV. In 120 healthy nonobese subjects the plasma leptin concentration was determined, and HRV was recorded at baseline and during tilt. All subjects were categorized in quartiles of plasma leptin concentration. Analysis of data showed a significant increase in body mass index, body fat, fasting plasma insulin, triglyceride concentration, and homeostatic model assessment values throughout the different quartiles of plasma leptin concentration. Concerning cardiovascular parameters, heart rate, arterial blood pressures, and RR intervals were not significantly different among the quartiles. Total power and high frequency (HF) in normalized units were significantly decreased, whereas low frequency (LF) normalized units was progressively increased from the first to the fourth quartile. Thus, the LF/HF ratio rose gradually and significantly from the lowest to the highest quartile. Such results were independent of the body fat estimate (P <0.03 for the trend). The change in the LF/HF ratio was significantly enhanced during tilt (P <0.001 vs. rest values for all quartiles); the effect was stronger in subjects in the fourth quartile of plasma leptin concentration (P <0.005 for the trend). The latter parameter was also independent of body fat content and distribution (P 0.01). Our study shows that increasing fasting plasma leptin concentrations are associated with a shift of the sympathovagai balance toward a progressive increase in sympathetic activation and an increased response to orthostatic stimulus in nonobese subjects with different body fat contents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism