Leptin--from regulation of fat metabolism to stimulation of breast cancer growth

Pathol Oncol Res. 2006;12(2):69-72. doi: 10.1007/BF02893446. Epub 2006 Jun 24.


Leptin restricts intake of calories as a satiety hormone. It probably stimulates neoplastic proliferation in breast cancer, too. Growth of malignant cells could be regulated by various leptin-induced second messengers like STAT3 (signal transducers and activators of transcription 3), AP-1 (transcription activator protein 1), MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) and ERKs (extracellular signal-regulated kinases). They seem to be involved in aromatase expression, generation of estrogens and activation of estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) in malignant breast epithelium. Leptin may maintain resistance to antiestrogen therapy. Namely, it increased activation of estrogen receptors, therefore, it was suspected to reduce or even overcome the inhibitory effect of tamoxifen on breast cell proliferation. Although several valuable reviews have been focused on the role of leptin in breast cancer, the status of knowledge in this field changes quickly and our insight should be continuously revised. In this summary, we provide refreshed interpretation of intensively reported scientific queries of the topic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Estrogen Receptor Modulators / pharmacology
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Humans
  • Leptin / physiology*
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology*
  • Obesity / physiopathology*


  • Estrogen Receptor Modulators
  • Estrogens
  • Leptin