Bone mass acquisition in female rhythmic gymnasts during puberty: no direct role for leptin

Laurent Maïmoun, Olivier Coste, Audrey Jaussent, Denis Mariano-Goulart, Charles Sultan, Françoise Paris
Clinical Endocrinology 2010, 72 (5): 604-11

OBJECTIVES: Although hypoleptinaemia has been reported in female peripubertal athletes, data are lacking on leptin and bone mass variations in puberty and the effects of leptin on bone mineralization during this period. This study therefore investigated the variations in leptin level and bone mineral density (BMD) in young elite female rhythmic gymnasts (FRG) according to pubertal stage. The effects of leptin, IGF-1 and sex hormones on bone mineral acquisition were also evaluated.

PATIENTS AND MEASUREMENTS: Plasma leptin levels were analysed in 43 elite FRG (mean age: 13.3 +/- 1.8 years range: 10.6-17.2, body mass index: 17.52 +/- 1.85 kg/m(2), training status: 17.9-23.8 h/week) according to their pubertal stage (Tanner I, n = 7; II, n = 10; III, n = 9; IV, n = 8; V, n = 9). IGF-1, IGFBP-3 and sex hormones were also evaluated. BMD was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry at various bone sites.

RESULTS: Plasma leptin increased throughout pubertal growth and the values measured in Tanner stages IV-V were significantly higher than in stages I-II. Gains in BMD were measured throughout puberty at all bone sites, particularly between Tanner stages II and IV. In simple correlation analysis, BMD at all bone sites was positively correlated with plasma leptin, age, bone age, BMI, oestrogen, testosterone, IGF-1 and IGFBP-3. However, multivariate analysis using a linear regression model by block (including bone age, anthropometric data and biological parameters) was then performed to determine the factors independently associated with each BMD site, and only bone age, fat-free soft tissue and BMI remained independent predictors.

CONCLUSION: In FRG characterized by high training volume and low fat mass, plasma leptin levels increased throughout puberty and were partially related to body composition changes. Despite the simultaneous increases in plasma leptin and BMD during pubertal growth, it was not possible to differentiate the leptin impact on bone independently from anthropometric parameters.

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