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Treat Endocrinol. 2004;3(1):11-8.

Leptin as a potential treatment for obesity: progress to date.

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Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.


Despite significant reductions in the consumption of dietary fat, the prevalence of obesity is steadily rising in western civilization. Of particular concern is the recent epidemic of childhood obesity, which is expected to increase the incidence of obesity-related disorders. The obese gene (ob) protein product leptin is a hormone that is secreted from adipocytes and functions to suppress appetite and increase energy expenditure. Leptin is an attractive candidate for the treatment of obesity as it is an endogenous protein and has been demonstrated to have potent effects on bodyweight and adiposity in rodents. Whereas leptin has been successfully used in the treatment of leptin-deficient obese patients, trials in hyperleptinemic obese patients have yielded variable results. Long-acting leptins have been tried but with no greater success. Other strategies including the use of leptin analogs and other factors that bypass normal leptin delivery systems are being developed. Identifying the mechanisms at the molecular level by which leptin functions will create new avenues for pharmaceutical targeting to simulate the intracellular effects of leptin.

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