Researchers in the United Kingdom have reported a link between blood levels of the protein leptin and the risk for coronary heart disease.
Leptin, a product of the "obesity" gene that was cloned in 1994, helps produce a feeling of fullness that tells people when to stop eating. High leptin levels in obese individuals may reflect resistance to the effects of this hormone. In a study of 74 men, researchers at the Imperial College School of Medicine in London, England, found that the higher the blood level of leptin, the more likely the study subjects were to have insulin resistance syndrome. The syndrome is characterized by hypertension, low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and elevated insulin levels, all of which contribute to the developmentof heart disease. The relationship with lelptin was still present after correcting for body fat.
Voelker R. Leptin and Heart Disease. JAMA. 1998;280(2):125. doi:10.1001/jama.280.2.125-JWM80004-2-1