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, 13 Suppl 1, 717-22

Body Fat Mass, Leptin and Puberty


Body Fat Mass, Leptin and Puberty

W Kiess et al. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab.


Leptin, the ob gene product, provides a molecular basis for the lipostatic theory of the regulation of energy balance. Leptin circulates as a monomeric 16 kDa protein in rodent and human plasma and is also bound to leptin binding proteins that may form large high molecular weight complexes. Initial models of leptin action included leptin-deficient ob/ob mice and leptin-insensitive db/db mice. Peripheral or central administration of leptin reduced body weight, adiposity, and food intake in ob/ob mice but not in db/db mice. In ob/ob mice leptin treatment restored fertility. Leptin interacts with many messenger molecules in the brain. For example, leptin suppresses neuropeptide Y (NPY) expression in the arcuate nucleus. Increased NPY activity has an inhibitory effect on the gonadotropin axis and represents a direct mechanism for inhibiting sexual maturation and reproductive function in conditions of food restriction and/or energy expenditure. By modulating the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis both directly and indirectly, leptin may thus serve as the signal from fat to the brain about the adequacy of fat stores for pubertal development and reproduction. Normal leptin secretion is necessary for normal reproductive function to proceed and leptin may be a signal allowing for the point of initiation of and progression toward puberty.

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