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J Nutr. 2000 Dec;130(12):3127S-3131S.

Regulation of leptin production in humans.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.


Serum levels of the adipocyte hormone leptin are increased in proportion to body fat stores as a result of increased production in enlarged fat cells from obese subjects. In vitro studies indicate that insulin and glucocorticoids work directly on adipose tissue to upregulate in a synergistic manner leptin mRNA levels and rates of leptin secretion in human adipose tissue over the long term. Thus, the increased leptin expression observed in obesity could result from the chronic hyperinsulinemia and increased cortisol turnover. Superimposed upon the long-term regulation, nutritional status can influence serum leptin over the short term, independent of adiposity. Fasting leads to a gradual decline in serum leptin that is probably attributable to the decline in insulin and the ability of catecholamines to decrease leptin expression, as observed in both in vivo and in vitro studies. In addition, increases in serum leptin occur approximately 4-7 h after meals. Increasing evidence indicates that insulin, in concert with permissive effects of cortisol, can increase serum leptin over this time frame and likely contributes to meal-induced increases in serum leptin. Further research is required to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying short- and long-term nutritional and hormonal regulation of leptin production and secretion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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