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Leptin and the regulation of body weight in mammals


The assimilation, storage and use of energy from nutrients constitute a homeostatic system that is essential for life. In vertebrates, the ability to store sufficient quantities of energy-dense triglyceride in adipose tissue allows survival during the frequent periods of food deprivation encountered during evolution. However, the presence of excess adipose tissue can be maladaptive. A complex physiological system has evolved to regulate fuel stores and energy balance at an optimum level. Leptin, a hormone secreted by adipose tissue, and its receptor are integral components of this system. Leptin also signals nutritional status to several other physiological systems and modulates their function. Here we review the role of leptin in the control of body weight and its relevance to the pathogenesis of obesity.

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We thank S. Korres for assistance in preparing this manuscript and J. Froude for editing it, and D. Luck, J. Breslow, B. Schneider and M. Stoffel for critically reading it and for thoughtful comments. This work was supported by a grant from NIH/NIDDK (J.M.F.) and in part by an NIH MSTP grant (to J.L.H.).

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Correspondence to Jeffrey M. Friedman.

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Figure 1: Adipocyte leptin and the regulation of adipose tissue mass.
Figure 2: Leptin-receptor isoforms and receptor mutations in rodent models of obesity.
Figure 3: Biological response to high versus low leptin levels.
Figure 4: Pathogenesis of obesity.
Figure 5: Regulation of leptin expression and the development of obesity.


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