The weight of leptin in immunity

Nat Rev Immunol. 2004 May;4(5):371-9. doi: 10.1038/nri1350.


Leptin is an adipocyte-derived hormone/cytokine that links nutritional status with neuroendocrine and immune functions. As a hormone, leptin regulates food intake and basal metabolism, and is sexually dimorphic - that is, its serum concentration is higher in females than in males with a similar body fat mass. As a cytokine, leptin can affect thymic homeostasis and the secretion of acute-phase reactants such as interleukin-1 and tumour-necrosis factor. Similar to other pro-inflammatory cytokines, leptin promotes T helper 1 (TH1)-cell differentiation and can modulate the onset and progression of autoimmune responses in several animal models of disease. Here, we review the advances and controversy for a role of leptin in the pathophysiology of immune responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Leptin / immunology*
  • Male
  • Models, Molecular
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / immunology*
  • Receptors, Leptin
  • Signal Transduction / immunology


  • Cytokines
  • Leptin
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Leptin
  • leptin receptor, human