Serum leptin levels are higher in females affected by frontotemporal lobar degeneration than Alzheimer’s disease

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Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) includes different heterogeneous conditions, mainly characterised by personality changes, along with cognitive deficits in language and executive functions. Movement disorders are variably represented. Behavioural disturbances constitute the core feature of FTLD, and eating disorders represent one of the most distinguishing symptoms between FTLD and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The biochemical correlates of such dysfunctions remain to be defined. The adipocyte derived hormone leptin is known to play a foundamental role in food intake and energy balance. To understrand whether leptin could be involved in FTLD eating abnormalities, we measured serum leptin levels in 59 patients with FTLD compared with 25 with AD. Serum leptin levels in patients with FTLD were comparable with those in patients with AD. Nevertheless, females with FTLD showed significantly higher leptin levels compared with females with AD. No difference was found between FTDL and AD males or within the spectrum of patients with FTLD. Hyperphagic FTLD females showed higher circulating leptin levels in comparison with those without eating abnormalities; no differences were found between males with FTLD with respect to serum leptin and food intake disturbances. The present study showed a selective gender difference in leptin levels between females with FTLD and AD, which may suggest specific cognitive and behavioural networks need to be investigated.

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