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Annu Rev Nutr. 2000;20:105-27.

Regulation of metabolism and body fat mass by leptin.

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Department of Animal and Dairy Science, University of Georgia, Athens Georgia 30602, USA.


The relative stability of body weight over the long term and under a variety of environmental conditions that alter short-term energy intake and expenditure provides strong evidence for the regulation of body energy content. The lipostatic theory of energy balance regulation proposed 40 years ago that circulating factors, generated in proportion to body fat stores, acted as signals to the brain, eliciting changes in energy intake and expenditure. The discovery of leptin and its receptors has now provided a molecular basis for this theory. Leptin functions as much more than an adipocyte-derived signal of lipid stores, however. Although suppression of food intake is an important centrally mediated effect of leptin, considerable evidence indicates that leptin also functions both directly and indirectly, via the brain, to orchestrate complex metabolic changes in a number of organs and tissues, altering nutrient flux to favor energy expenditure over energy storage.

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