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Vitam Horm. 2005;71:345-72.

Leptin: structure, function and biology.

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Department of Chemistry, Indiana University at Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA.


Leptin is an adipocyte-derived hormone that acts as a major regulator for food intake and energy homeostasis. Leptin deficiency or resistance can result in profound obesity, diabetes, and infertility in humans. Since its discovery, our understanding of leptin's biological functions has expanded from anti-obesity to broad effects on reproduction, hematopoiesis, angiogenesis, blood pressure, bone mass, lymphoid organ homeostasis, and T lymphocyte systems. Leptin orchestrates complex biological effects through its receptors, expressed both centrally and peripherally. Leptin receptor belongs to the class I cytokine receptor superfamily. At least five isoforms of leptin receptor exist, primarily because of alternate splicing. The longest form is capable of full signal transduction. The short forms may serve as leptin binding proteins and play a role in leptin transporting across the blood-brain barrier. In this review, we present the crystal structure of leptin and the structural comparison with other four-helical cytokines, discuss the leptin-receptor binding models based on other cytokine-receptor complex structures, and summarize the most recent progress on leptin signal transduction pathways--especially its link to peripheral lipid metabolism through AMP-activated protein kinase and hepatic stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 pathways. Furthermore, we propose the structure based design of leptin analogs with increased stability, improved potency, enhanced blood-brain barrier transport, and extended time action for future therapeutic application.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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