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Mucosal Immunol. 2012 Sep;5(5):472-9. doi: 10.1038/mi.2012.40. Epub 2012 Jun 13.

Leptin and mucosal immunity.

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Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health, Department of Medicine, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.


Enhanced susceptibility to infection has long been recognized in children with congenital deficiency of leptin or its receptor. Studies in mice have demonstrated that leptin deficiency affects both the innate and acquired immune systems. Here, we review recent studies that demonstrate the impact on immunity of a common non-synonomous polymorphism of the leptin receptor. In a Bangladesh cohort of children, the presence of two copies of the ancestral Q223 allele was significantly associated with resistance to amebiasis. Children and mice with at least one copy of the leptin receptor 223R mutation were more susceptible to amebic colitis. Leptin signaling in the intestinal epithelium and downstream STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3) and SHP2 (Src homology phosphatase 2) signaling were required for protection in the murine model of amebic colitis. Murine models have also implicated leptin in protection from other infections, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Thus, the role of leptin signaling in infectious disease and specifically leptin-mediated protection of the intestinal epithelium will be the focus of this review.

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