Leptin, a hormone secreted by adipocytes, plays a crucial role in regulating energy balance. Estrogen, like leptin, reduces food intake and adiposity while increasing energy expenditure in animals and humans of both sexes through its actions on the central nervous system. We reviewed the literature for studies of the effects of exogenously administered estrogen on serum leptin concentrations and adiposity in women.
Using PubMed/Medline, we searched for studies of hormone therapy that enrolled healthy postmenopausal women. Studies were further evaluated to determine if leptin and adiposity were monitored both at baseline and throughout a treatment period of at least 2 months.
Twenty articles met inclusion criteria. We found no consistent effects of exogenous estrogen on serum leptin concentrations, adiposity, or weight gain.
Despite suggestive data from animal studies, the current literature does not provide compelling evidence that estrogen therapy attenuates weight gain, alters circulating leptin levels, or improves leptin action in postmenopausal women.