The aim of this study was to describe longitudinal changes in body composition, leptin, adiponectin, and ghrelin over a 36-month period in prepubertal rhythmic gymnasts (RG) and their age-matched untrained controls (UC) entering into puberty. Thirty-five RG (8.0 ± 0.6 yrs) and 33 UC (8.2 ± 0.6 yrs) were followed at 12-month intervals for the next 3 years. Height, weight, pubertal stage, body composition, leptin, adiponectin, and ghrelin were measured at each time points. The pubertal development over the next 36 months was slower in the RG compared with UC. Leptin was increased in UC and remained unchanged in RG over 3-year study period (3.7 ± 3.6 vs. 0.2 ± 1.1 ng/ml; p < .05). In RG, baseline leptin was negatively correlated with the change in body fat percentage over a 36-month period (r = −0.34; p < .05). The change in adiponectin over the study period was negatively correlated with the change in BMI (r = −0.43; p < .05). RG had relative leptin deficiency per body fat mass. In conclusion, relatively high leptin concentration at the beginning of puberty may predict those girls who do not increase their body fat percentage through coming years and therefore may have increased risk for delayed puberty.
Vosoberg, T. Jürimäe, Saar, Neissaar, Latt, and J. Jürimäe are with the Institute of Sport Pedagogy and Coaching Sciences, Tillmann the Dept. of Pediatrics, and Maasalu the Clinics of Traumatology and Orthopedics, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia. Tamm is with the Tartu Health Care College, Tartu, Estonia. Address author correspondence to Kristel Vösoberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.