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Nutrition. 2008 Sep;24(9):820-6. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2008.06.023.

Disruption in the leptin-NPY link underlies the pandemic of diabetes and metabolic syndrome: new therapeutic approaches.

Author information

  • Department of Neuroscience, University of Florida, McKnight Brain Institute, Gainesville, Florida, USA. skalra@mbi.ufl.edu


Multidisciplinary research from my and my colleagues' laboratory has shown that disruption at various levels of leptin signaling to the interactive hypothalamic network of neuropeptide Y (NPY) and cohorts contributes to the antecedent pathophysiologic sequelae of the disease cluster of the metabolic syndrome. Disruptions in NPY signaling due to high or low abundance of NPY and cognate receptors dysregulate the homeostatic milieu to promote hyperinsulinemia, hyperglycemia, fat accrual, and overt diabetes. Hyperleptinemia induced by consumption of energy-rich diets inhibits leptin transport across the blood-brain barrier and thereby produces leptin insufficiency in the hypothalamus. Sustained leptin insufficiency results in loss of hypothalamic restraint on pancreatic insulin secretion and diminished glucose metabolism and energy expenditure. This chain of events culminates in hyperinsulinemia, hyperglycemia, and diabetes. Our recent studies have shown that increasing the supply of leptin centrally by gene therapy reinstates the restraint on hypothalamic NPY signaling and ameliorates diabetes and the attendant disease cluster of the metabolic syndrome. Thus, newer therapies that would enhance leptin transport across the blood-brain barrier in a timely manner or reinstate leptin restraint on NPY signaling through central leptin gene therapy or pharmacologically with leptin mimetics are likely to curtail the pathophysiologic sequelae of diabetes and related ailments of the metabolic syndrome.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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