Send to

Choose Destination
Curr Biol. 1996 Sep 1;6(9):1170-80.

A role for leptin and its cognate receptor in hematopoiesis.

Author information

Department of Molecular Oncology, Genentech Inc., 460 Point San Bruno Blvd, South San Francisco, California 94080, USA.



Hematopoiesis entails the production of multiple blood cell lineages throughout the lifespan of the organism. This is accomplished by the regulated expansion and differentiation of hematopoietic precursors that originate from self-renewing hematopoietic stem cells. Studies of lineage commitment and proliferation have shown that the cytokine family of growth factors plays an important role in hematopoietic differentiation. However, in hematopoiesis, as in most self-renewing biological systems, the molecules that regulate the stem cells directly remain largely unknown. In this study, we have undertaken a search for novel cytokines that may influence the fate of hematopoietic stem cells.


We have cloned three splice variants of a novel cytokine receptor from human hematopoietic stem cells expressing the CD34 antigen, one of which is identical to the leptin receptor. Expression analysis revealed that the leptin receptor is expressed in both human and murine hematopoietic stem cell populations, and that leptin is expressed by hematopoietic stroma. We show that leptin provides a proliferative signal in hematopoietic cells. Importantly, we demonstrate that leptin provides a proliferative signal in BAF-3 cells and increases the proliferation of hematopoietic stem cell populations. The proliferative effects of leptin seem to be at the level of a multilineage progenitor, as shown by increased myelopoiesis, erythropoiesis and lymphopoiesis. Analysis of db/db mice, in which the leptin receptor is truncated, revealed that the steady-state levels of peripheral blood B cells and CD4-expressing T cells were dramatically reduced, demonstrating that the leptin pathway plays an essential role in lymphopoiesis. Colony assays performed using marrow from db/db and wild-type mice indicated that db/db marrow has a deficit in lymphopoietic progenitors; furthermore, db/db mice are unable to fully recover the lymphopoietic population following irradiation insult, and although the levels of peripheral blood erythrocytes are normal in db/db mice, spleen erythrocyte production is severely compromized.


We have discovered that leptin and its cognate receptor constitute a novel hematopoietic pathway that is required for normal lymphopoiesis. This pathway seems to act at the level of the hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell, and may well also impact upon erythropoiesis, particularly in anemic states that may require output from the spleen. These findings offer a new perspective on the role of the fat cell in hematopoiesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center