Leptin is an adipocyte-derived hormone, recognized as a critical mediator of the balance between food intake and energy expenditure by signalling through its functional receptor (Ob-Rb) in the hypothalamus. Structurally, leptin belongs to the long-chain helical cytokine family, and is now known to have pleiotropic functions in both innate and adaptive immunity. The presence of the functional leptin receptor in the lung together with evidence of increased airspace leptin levels arising during pulmonary inflammation, suggests an important role for leptin in lung development, respiratory immune responses and eventually pathogenesis of inflammatory respiratory diseases. The purpose of this article is to review our current understanding of leptin and its functional role on the different resident cell types of the lung in health as well as in the context of three major respiratory conditions being chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and pneumonia.
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