Leptin is an adipocyte-derived hormone that decreases food intake and body weight via its receptor in the hypothalamus. In rodents, it also modulates glucose metabolism by increasing insulin sensitivity. We previously reported that leptin is produced by human placental trophoblasts. We also revealed that leptin gene expression in the placenta was augmented in severe pre-eclampsia, and suggested that placental hypoxia may play a role in this augmentation. Maternal plasma leptin levels correlated well with mean blood pressure, but not with body mass index. Plasma leptin levels in pre-eclamptic women with IUGR were higher than those without IUGR (P<0.05). We further examined the effects of hyperleptinemia on the course of pregnancy by using transgenic mice (Tg) overexpressing leptin. In pregnant Tg mice, food intake was significantly less than non-Tg, and the fetal body weights were reduced to approximately 70 per cent of those of non-Tg. Resistin is a novel adipocyte-derived hormone that decreases insulin sensitivity and increases plasma glucose concentration, thus contributing the development of obesity-related type II diabetes mellitus. We recently found that resistin gene is expressed in the human placenta as well as adipose tissue. In this review, possible roles of placental leptin and resistin are discussed.
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