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Trends Mol Med. 2016 Feb;22(2):88-98. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2015.12.001. Epub 2016 Jan 14.

Leptin Regulation of Immune Responses.

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Medical Research Council Unit, Atlantic Blvd, Serrekunda, Gambia. Electronic address:
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA.


Leptin is a regulatory hormone with multiple roles in the immune system. We favor the concept that leptin signaling 'licenses' various immune cells to engage in immune responses and/or to differentiate. Leptin is an inflammatory molecule that is capable of activating both adaptive and innate immunity. It can also 'enhance' immune functions, including inflammatory cytokine production in macrophages, granulocyte chemotaxis, and increased Th17 proliferation. Leptin can also 'inhibit' cells; CD4(+) T cells are inhibited from differentiating into regulatory T cells in the presence of elevated leptin, while NK cells can exhibit impaired cytotoxicity under the same circumstances. Consequently, understanding the effect of leptin signaling is important to appreciate various aspects of immune dysregulation observed in malnutrition, obesity, and autoimmunity.


acquired immune system; innate; leptin regulation

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