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Endocrinology. 2010 Jan;151(1):56-62. doi: 10.1210/en.2009-0565. Epub 2009 Dec 4.

Leptin: a critical regulator of CD4+ T-cell polarization in vitro and in vivo.

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  • 1Charit√© Universit√§tsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Gastroenterology, 12200 Berlin, Germany.


Besides being mandatory in the metabolic system, adipokines like leptin directly affect immunity. Leptin was found to be necessary in T helper 1 (Th1)-dependent inflammatory processes, whereas effects on Th2 cells are rarely understood. Here, we focused on leptin in T-helper cell polarization and in Th2-mediated intestinal inflammation in vivo. The induction of cytokine-producing Th1 or Th2 cells from naive CD4(+) T cells under polarizing conditions in vitro was generally decreased in cells from leptin-deficient ob/ob mice compared with wild-type mice. To explore the in vivo relevance of leptin in Th2-mediated inflammation, the model of oxazolone-induced colitis was employed in wild-type, ob/ob, and leptin-reconstituted ob/ob mice. Ob/ob mice were protected, whereas wild-type and leptin-reconstituted ob/ob mice developed colitis. The disease severity went in parallel with local production of the Th2 cytokine IL-13. A possible explanation for the protection of ob/ob mice in Th1- as well as in Th2-dependent inflammation is provided by a decreased expression of the key transcription factors for Th1 and Th2 polarization, T-bet and GATA-3, in naive ob/ob T cells. In conclusion, these results support the regulatory function of the adipokine leptin within T-cell polarization and thus in the acquired immune system and support the concept that there is a close interaction with the endocrine system.

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