Serum leptin, insulin, and inflammatory cytokines in overweight and obese individuals: an analysis based on gender differences

Mitra Zarrati, Elhameh Cheshmazar, Raheleh Shokouhi Shoormasti, Rooya Alipour, Farinaz Nasirinezhad


Background: Obesity, a pro-inflammatory state, can be related to several diseases. Secreting cytokines such as Tumor Necrosis Factor-α (TNF-α), Interleukin-1 (IL-1), and Interleukin-6 (IL-6), adipose tissue can play an essential role in inflammation and insulin resistance. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the effect of gender difference on serum leptin, insulin, and some inflammatory cytokines among obese or overweight males and females.

Methods: Obese and overweight subjects (84 men and 105 women) aged 18 - 60 years were assessed. The concentrations of TNF-α, IL-1 and IL-6, leptin, insulin, and anthropometric measurements were measured in fasting blood samples.

Results: The mean values of anthropometric measurements (all P < 0.001) and the concentrations of homocysteine (P<0.001) were significantly higher in men than women. IL-6 (P < 0.001) and IL-1 (P = 0.002) were significantly higher among females. Females had a higher level of Leptin but this difference was not significant (P = 0.055). No significant differences were found in insulin, TNF-α and high-sensitive C-reactive protein between males and females.

Conclusion: Overall, our study demonstrated that there were significant differences in levels of IL-6, IL-1 and homocysteine between obese males and females.


Sex Characteristics; Insulin; Leptin; Cytokines; Blood Cell Count

Full Text:



Oliveira TMS, Faria FRd, Faria ERd, Pereira PF, Franceschini SC, Priore SE. Nutritional status, metabolic changes and white blood cells in adolescents. Revista Paulista de Pediatria. 2014;32(4):351-9.

World Health Organization. obesity. Geneva: WHO; 2015 [Available from:

Saadat S, Yousefifard M, Asady H, Jafari AM, Fayaz M, Hosseini M. The most important causes of death in Iranian population; a Retrospective Cohort Study. Emergency. 2015;3(1):16-21.

Schmidt FM, Weschenfelder J, Sander C, Minkwitz J, Thormann J, Chittka T, et al. Inflammatory cytokines in general and central obesity and modulating effects of physical activity. PLoS One. 2015;10(3):e0121971.

Nicklas BJ, Katzel LI, Ryan AS, Dennis KE, Goldberg AP. Gender differences in the response of plasma leptin concentrations to weight loss in obese older individuals. Obes Res. 1997;5(1):62-8.

Farooq A, Knez WL, Knez K, Al-Noaimi A, Grantham J, Mohamed-Ali V. Gender differences in fat distribution and inflammatory markers among arabs. Mediators Inflamm. 2013;2013:1-7.

Dixon D, Goldberg R, Schneiderman N, Delamater A. Gender differences in TNF-α levels among obese vs nonobese Latino children. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004;58(4):696-9.

Alemzadeh R, Kichler J. Gender differences in the association of insulin resistance and high-sensitivity c-reactive protein in obese adolescents. J Diabetes Metab Disord. 2014;13(1):35.

Farhangi MA, Keshavarz S-A, Eshraghian M, Ostadrahimi A, Saboor-Yaraghi A-A. White blood cell count in women: relation to inflammatory biomarkers, haematological profiles, visceral adiposity, and other cardiovascular risk factors. J Health Popul Nutr. 2013;31(1):58-68.

Santimone I, Di Castelnuovo AF, De Curtis A, Spinelli M, Cugino D, Gianfagna F, et al. White blood cells count, sex and age are major determinants of platelet indices heterogeneity in an adult general population: results from the MOLI-SANI project. Haematologica. 2011;96(8):1180-8.

Geer EB, Shen W. Gender differences in insulin resistance, body composition, and energy balance. Gend Med. 2009;6:60-75.

Ferrara CM, Goldberg AP, Nicklas BJ, Sorkin JD, Ryan AS. Sex differences in insulin action and body fat distribution in overweight and obese middle-aged and older men and women. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2008;33(4):784-90.

Lee CC, Glickman SG, Dengel DR, Brown MD, Supiano MA. Abdominal adiposity assessed by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry provides a sex-independent predictor of insulin sensitivity in older adults. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2005;60(7):872-7.

Cnop M, Havel P, Utzschneider K, Carr D, Sinha M, Boyko E, et al. Relationship of adiponectin to body fat distribution, insulin sensitivity and plasma lipoproteins: evidence for independent roles of age and sex. Diabetologia. 2003;46(4):459-69.

Hosseini M, Baikpour M, Yousefifard M, Yaseri M, Fayaz M, Shirafkan H, et al. Blood Pressure nomograms by Age and Weight for Iranian children and adolescents. Int J Pediatr. 2016;4(7):2153-66.

Hosseini M, Baikpour M, Yousefifard M, Fayaz M, Koohpayehzadeh J, Ghelichkhani P, et al. Blood pressure percentiles by age and body mass index for adults. EXCLI j. 2015;14:465-77.

Yousefifard M, Parviz M, Hosseini M, Ebadiani M, Keshavarz M. Mizaj past, present and future. Physiol Pharmacol. 2013;16(4):328-39. [In Persian].

Wabitsch M, Blum WF, Muche R, Braun M, Hube F, Rascher W, et al. Contribution of androgens to the gender difference in leptin production in obese children and adolescents. J Clin Invest. 1997;100(4):808-13.

Salehpour A, Hosseinpanah F, Shidfar F, Vafa M, Razaghi M, Dehghani S, et al. A 12-week double-blind randomized clinical trial of vitamin D3 supplementation on body fat mass in healthy overweight and obese women. Nutr J. 2012;11(1):78.

Rosenbaum M, Nicolson M, Hirsch J, Heymsfield SB, Gallagher D, Chu F, et al. Effects of gender, body composition, and menopause on plasma concentrations of leptin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1996;81(9):3424-7.

Moran A, Jacobs DR, Steinberger J, Steffen LM, Pankow JS, Hong C-P, et al. Changes in insulin resistance and cardiovascular risk during adolescence establishment of differential risk in males and females. Circulation. 2008;117(18):2361-8.

Tara M, Souza SC, Aronovitz M, Obin MS, Fried SK, Greenberg AS. Estrogen regulation of adiposity and fuel partitioning evidence of genomic and non-genomic regulation of lipogenic and oxidative pathways. J Biol Chem. 2005;280(43):35983-91.

Chu N-F, Shen M-H, Wu D-M, Shieh S-M. Plasma TNF-R1 and insulin concentrations in relation to leptin levels among normal and overweight children. Clin Biochem. 2002;35(4):287-92.

Pfeiffer A, Janott J, Möhlig M, Ristow M, Rochlitz H, Busch K, et al. Circulating tumor necrosis factor alpha is elevated in male but not in female patients with type II diabetes mellitus. Horm Metab Res. 1997;29(3):111-4.

Winkler G, Lakatos P, Salamon F, Nagy Z, Speer G, Kovacs M, et al. Elevated serum TNF‐α level as a link between endothelial dysfunction and insulin resistance in normotensive obese patients. Diabet Med. 1999;16(3):207-11.

Malinow M. Homocyst (e) ine and arterial occlusive diseases. J Intern Med. 1994;236(6):603-17.

Lussier-Cacan S, Xhignesse M, Piolot A, Selhub J, Davignon J, Genest J. Plasma total homocysteine in healthy subjects: sex-specific relation with biological traits. Am J Clin Nutr. 1996;64(4):587-93.

Peterson PK, Chao CC, Carson P, Hu S, Nichol K, Janoff EN. Levels of tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin 6, interleukin 10, and transforming growth factor β are normal in the serum of the healthy elderly. Clin Infect Dis. 1994;19(6):1158-9.

Young D, Skibinski G, Mason J, James K. The influence of age and gender on serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S), IL-6, IL-6 soluble receptor (IL-6 sR) and transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) levels in normal healthy blood donors. Clin Exp Immunol. 1999;117(3):476-81.

Khera A, Vega GL, Das SR, Ayers C, McGuire DK, Grundy SM, et al. Sex differences in the relationship between C-reactive protein and body fat. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009;94(9):3251-8.

Alemzadeh R, Kichler J. Gender differences in the association of insulin resistance and high-sensitivity c-reactive protein in obese adolescents. Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders. 2014;13(1):1.

Apovian CM, Bigornia S, Mott M, Meyers MR, Ulloor J, Gagua M, et al. Adipose macrophage infiltration is associated with insulin resistance and vascular endothelial dysfunction in obese subjects. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2008;28(9):1654-9.

Mauras N, DelGiorno C, Kollman C, Bird K, Morgan M, Sweeten S, et al. Obesity without established comorbidities of the metabolic syndrome is associated with a proinflammatory and prothrombotic state, even before the onset of puberty in children. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010;95(3):1060-8.

Gelaye B, Revilla L, Lopez T, Suarez L, Sanchez S, Hevner K, et al. Association between insulin resistance and c-reactive protein among Peruvian Adults. Diabetology and Metabolic Syndrome 2010; 2: 30–36. diabetic patients. Diabetes Metab J. 2011;35:41-9.

Yuan J, Wang L, Lin Y, Chen J, Hu J. Differences of plasma IL-1 and TNF-α in healthy Chinese Population. Open Med. 2015;10(1):306-10.

Ardern C, Katzmarzyk P, Janssen I, Leon A, Wilmore J, Skinner J, et al. Race and sex similarities in exercise-induced changes in blood lipids and fatness. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004;36(9):1610-5.

Garelnabi M, Veledar E, Abramson J, White‐Welkley J, Santanam N, Weintraub W, et al. Physical inactivity and cardiovascular risk: baseline observations from men and premenopausal women. J Clin Lab Anal. 2010;24(2):100-5.

Pérez-López FR, Larrad-Mur L, Kallen A, Chedraui P, Taylor HS. Review: Gender differences in cardiovascular disease: hormonal and biochemical influences. Reprod Sci. 2010;17(6):511-31.

Wang X, Magkos F, Mittendorfer B. Sex differences in lipid and lipoprotein metabolism: it's not just about sex hormones. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96(4):885-93.

MacKay EM, MacKay LL. The concentration of urea in the blood of normal individuals. J Clin Invest. 1927;4(2):295-306.

Mudd SH, Poole JR. Labile methyl balances for normal humans on various dietary regimens. Metabolism. 1975;24(6):721-35.

Malinow M, Levenson J, Giral P, Nieto F, Razavian M, Segond P, et al. Role of blood pressure, uric acid, and hemorheological parameters on plasma homocyst (e) ine concentration. Atherosclerosis. 1995;114(2):175-83.

Wu LL, Wu J, Hunt SC, James BC, Vincent GM, Williams RR, et al. Plasma homocyst (e) ine as a risk factor for early familial coronary artery disease. Clin Chem. 1994;40(4):552-61.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2016 Journal of Medical Physiology