Association between baseline plasma leptin levels and subsequent development of diabetes in Japanese Americans.
OBJECTIVE: Plasma leptin levels correlate strongly with increased total adipose tissue, a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes, yet the role of leptin in the etiology of diabetes remains unclear. We sought to determine whether leptin is a risk factor for development of diabetes in Japanese Americans. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: We compared baseline leptin levels in 370 nondiabetic Japanese Americans who remained nondiabetic for 5-6 years of follow-up with those of 40 nondiabetic Japanese Americans who developed diabetes during follow-up. All participants had computed tomography measurements of baseline subcutaneous chest, abdomen, thigh, and intra-abdominal fat, with total fat defined as the sum of all these measurements. RESULTS: The mean age was 51.7 +/- 11.7 years for men and 51.9 +/- 12.0 years for women. The 23 men who developed diabetes had significantly higher leptin levels than the 212 men who remained nondiabetic (P < 0.01). Among men, baseline leptin levels predicted diabetes risk independent of baseline total fat, insulin, insulin resistance, glucose, or age in separate multiple logistic regression models (relative risk adjusted for baseline total fat = 1.80 per SD increase [2.7 ng/ml], 95% CI 1.02-3.17). This association was particularly strong among men in the top decile for intra-abdominal fat. In contrast, the 17 women who developed diabetes had leptin levels similar to those of the 158 women who remained nondiabetic (P = 0.31). CONCLUSIONS: Among Japanese Americans, increased baseline leptin levels are associated with increased risk of developing diabetes in men but not in women.