An overview and update of the physiology of leptin in humans

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2 Scopus citations


Leptin was first discovered as a hormone produced by the adipose tissue. One function of adipocyte-derived leptin is to provide information to the central nervous system about the amount of energy stored in the adipose tissue. A second function of leptin in the regulation of whole body metabolism is to provide a signal of extremes in energy intake, falling with caloric deprivation, independent of the adipose tissue mass. In addition to its role as a signal of energy intake and energy stores, it is now apparent that leptin functions as a regulatory signal in a variety of physiological processes. Although many of these functions of leptin are mediated through the central nervous system, the presence of leptin receptors on many non- neural cells provides a mechanism for direct leptin effects on individual cells and tissues. This paper will provide an overview of leptin physiology in humans with emphasis on the role of leptin as a measure of the adipose tissue mass in the body, and as an indicator of energy intake. Additional functions of leptin that will be discussed include the coordination of the neuroendocrine and immune system response to food deprivation and regulation of glucose homeostasis through effects on insulin secretion and action. Other actions of leptin including its role in reproduction and hematopoiesis will be covered in detail in the following companion papers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-235
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Clinical Ligand Assay
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1999


  • Leptin
  • Leptin receptor
  • Ob gene
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Immunology

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