The role of leptin in obesity and the potential for leptin replacement therapy

Endocrine. 2013 Aug;44(1):33-9. doi: 10.1007/s12020-012-9865-y. Epub 2012 Dec 29.


Leptin (from the Greek word "lepto'' meaning "thin") is a 167-amino acid peptide hormone encoded by the obesity (ob) gene and secreted by white adipocytes. Blood leptin concentrations are increased in obese individuals. Leptin is a satiety hormone that provides negative feedback to the hypothalamus, controlling appetite and energy expenditure. Leptin binds to presynaptic GABAergic neurons to produce its effect, raising the distinct possibility that GABAergic axon terminals are the ultimate subcellular site of action for its effects. Released into the circulation, leptin crosses the blood-brain barrier and binds to leptin receptors, influencing the activity of various hypothalamic neurons, as well as encoding orexigenic and anorexigenic neuropeptides. Moreover, leptin affects a wide range of metabolic functions in the peripheral tissue. In this review, we discuss some physiologic functions of leptin, including effects on obesity and some effects of leptin replacement therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Leptin / pharmacology
  • Leptin / physiology*
  • Leptin / therapeutic use*
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Receptors, Leptin / physiology


  • Leptin
  • Receptors, Leptin