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Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2011 Dec;38(12):905-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2011.05619.x.

Leptin and cardiovascular diseases.

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Department of Pharmacology, Guangzhou institute of Cardiovascular Disease, Guangzhou key laboratory of Cardiovascular Disease, and Second Affiliated Hospital, Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou, China.


1. Leptin is a 16-kDa hormone, synthesized primarily by adipocyte, which acts as a key factor for maintenance of energy homeostasis in central and peripheral tissues. In most obese individuals, serum leptin levels are increased and correlate with the individual's body mass index. 2. Abundant investigations ranging from clinical and animal model studies to in vitro analyses show that leptin plays a pivotal role in obesity-related cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Hyperleptinaemia has been confirmed to be a predictor of acute cardiovascular events. However, some studies have shown that leptin has a cardioprotective effect in leptin-deficient models. These data suggest the influences of leptin on the pathophysiology of cardiovascular diseases are complex and not completely understood. 3. In the present review, we summarize the major leptin signalling pathways, including Janus-activated kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription (Jak/STAT), mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK), and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI-3K) signalling pathways, and analyse the probable mechanisms of selective leptin resistance. We then provide a detailed review of the effects of leptin on the cardiovascular system, including sympathoactivation, oxidative stress, vascular inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, vascular cell proliferation, cardiomyocytes hypertrophy, as well as fatty acid metabolism, all of which contribute to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases (e.g. ischaemic heart disease). The central premise of this review is to elucidate the mechanisms by which leptin affects the cardiovascular function and provide insight into obesity-related CVD.

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