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Vitam Horm. 2002;64:221-48.

Leptin and sweet taste.

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Section of Oral Neuroscience, Graduate School of Dental Sciences, Kyushu University, 3-1-1 Maidashi, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.


Leptin, the product of the obese (ob) gene, is a hormone primarily produced in adipose cells, and also at smaller amounts in some other peripheral organs. It regulates food intake, energy expenditure, and body weight. Leptin is thought to promote weight loss, at least in rodents, by suppressing appetite and stimulating metabolism. Mutant mice that lack either leptin or functional leptin receptors, such as ob/ob and db/db mice, are hyperphagic, massively obese, and diabetic. Central hypothalamic targets are mainly responsible for the effects of leptin on food intake and weight loss. However, there are also direct effects on peripheral tissues. Recently, the taste organ was found to be one of the peripheral targets for leptin. The hormone specifically inhibits sweet taste responses in lean mice and not in db/db mice. Thus leptin appears to act as a modulator of sweet taste, provided a functional leptin receptor is expressed by the taste cells. This chapter reviews the genetics and molecular biology of leptin and its receptors, the receptor mechanisms for sweet taste, the modulating action of leptin on taste receptor cells, and the consequences for the regulation of food intake.

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