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Curr Pharm Des. 2005;11(4):539-48.

Leptin, immune responses and autoimmune disease. Perspectives on the use of leptin antagonists.

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Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology, VIB09, Department of Medical Protein Research, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, A. Baertsoenkaai 3, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.


The pivotal role of leptin in regulating body weight and energy homeostasis is very well established. More recently, leptin also emerged as an important regulator of T-cell-dependent immunity. Reduced leptin levels, as observed during periods of starvation, correlate with an impaired cellular immune response, whereby especially the T(H)1 pro-inflammatory immune response appears to be affected. Physiologically, this could reflect the high energy demand of such processes, which are suppressed in animals or people with nutrient shortage. Several autoimmune diseases are T(H)1 T-cell dependent. In line with a pro-inflammatory role for leptin, animal models of leptin deficiency are markedly resistant to a variety of T-cell dependent autoimmune diseases. Here, we review the role of leptin in immune responses, with emphasis on autoimmune diseases. The design and potential use of leptin antagonists is also discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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