This article is part of the supplement: Second Annual International African-Caribbean Cancer Consortium Conference

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Leptin levels and leptin receptor polymorphism frequency in healthy populations

Camille C Ragin126*, Cher Dallal12, Michael Okobia123, Francesmary Modugno1, Jiangying Chen25, Seymour Garte24 and Emanuela Taioli126

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, USA

2 University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, USA

3 Department of Surgery, College of Medical Sciences, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria

4 Department of Environment and Occupational Health, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, USA

5 Guangzhou Red Cross Hospital, Guangdong, PR China

6 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Downstate School of Public Health, State University of New York, USA

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Infectious Agents and Cancer 2009, 4(Suppl 1):S13  doi:10.1186/1750-9378-4-S1-S13

Published: 10 February 2009



The leptin receptor gene (LEPR) polymorphism Q223R is one of the most common in the general population, and is thought to be associated with an impaired signaling capacity of the leptin receptor and with higher mean circulating levels of leptin. Leptin is a hormone primarily produced in adipose tissue. Increased levels of leptin have been positively correlated with obesity. We have determined the frequency of the leptin receptor polymorphism (LEPR Q223R) in healthy populations from various ethnic groups, and compared plasma leptin levels across the LEPR Q223R polymorphism in healthy African-Caribbean and Caucasian women.


The study population consists of 1,418 healthy subjects from various ethnic groups. The LEPR Q223R homozygous variant was observed overall in 19% of subjects (n = 1,418), with significant differences based on self reported ethnicity: the proportion of subjects with the homozygous variant was lower in Caucasians (14%, n = 883) than in African-Caribbean (n = 194), African-American (n = 36) and Asian/other ethnic groups (n = 26), (35%, 33% and 34.6% respectively); the frequency in Africans (20%), was similar to the overall study population. The mean ± standard deviation (SD), circulating leptin levels for African-Caribbean women was 44.7 ± 31.4 ng/ml, while for Caucasian women the mean was 42.4 ± 34.8 ng/ml. Adjusted circulating leptin levels in post-menopausal Caucasian women who were LEPR Q223R homozygous variant were marginally statistically significantly higher than in women with the wild-type genotype (p = 0.098). No significant differences in leptin levels by genotype were observed for African-Caribbean women, (heterozygous: p = 0.765, homozygous variant: p = 0.485).


These findings suggest an association between mean circulating leptin levels and the LEPR Q223R genotype among post-menopausal Caucasian women.