Leptin receptor signaling and the regulation of mammalian physiology

Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Dec;32 Suppl 7(Suppl 7):S8-12. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2008.232.


The adipocyte-derived hormone, leptin, signals the status of body energy stores to the central nervous system to regulate appetite and energy expenditure. A specific long-form leptin receptor (LepRb), a type I cytokine receptor, mediates leptin action on LepRb-expressing neurons in the brain. Leptin binding to LepRb activates the associated Janus kinase-2 (Jak2) tyrosine kinase to promote the phosphorylation of Jak2 and three residues on LepRb; each of these sites mediates a distinct aspect of downstream LepRb signaling, with differing physiologic functions. Tyr(1138) --> STAT3 signaling suppresses feeding, but is not required for a number of other leptin actions. Tyr(985) binds SH2-containing tyrosine phosphatase-2 and suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 and primarily mediates the attenuation of LepRb signaling in vivo. The role for Tyr(1077), the major regulator of signal transducer and activator of transcription-5 (STAT5) during leptin signaling, in the physiologic response to leptin remains unclear, although the obese phenotype of animals deleted for STAT5 in the brain suggests the potential importance of this signaling pathway. Leptin also modulates a number of other signaling pathways in the brain, including PI 3-kinase, mammalian target of rapamycin and AMP-dependent protein kinase; the pathways by which leptin controls these signals remain unclear, however, and may involve some indirect mechanisms. Important issues regarding leptin action and LepRb signaling in the future include not only the more thorough analysis of intracellular signaling pathways, but the neural substrate by which leptin acts, as most major populations of LepRb neurons remain poorly studied.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / physiology
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Leptin / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology
  • Receptors, Leptin / physiology*
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / physiology
  • STAT5 Transcription Factor / physiology
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling 3 Protein
  • Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling Proteins / physiology


  • LEPR protein, human
  • Leptin
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Leptin
  • SOCS3 protein, human
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT5 Transcription Factor
  • Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling 3 Protein
  • Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling Proteins