Obesity is a global epidemic associated with aging-like cellular processes; in both aging and obesity, resistance to hormones such as insulin and leptin can be observed. Leptin is a circulating hormone/cytokine with central and peripheral effects that is released mainly by subcutaneous white adipose tissue. Centrally, leptin controls food intake, energy expenditure, and fat distribution, whereas it controls (among several others) insulin sensitivity, free fatty acids (FFAs) oxidation, and lipolysis in the periphery. Aging is associated with important changes in both the distribution and the composition of adipose tissue. Fat is redistributed from the subcutaneous to the visceral depot and increased inflammation participates in adipocyte dysfunction. This redistribution of adipose tissue in favor of visceral fat influences negatively both longevity and healthy aging as shown in numerous animal models. These modifications observed during aging are also associated with leptin resistance. This resistance blunts normal central and peripheral functions of leptin, which leads to a decrease in neuroendocrine function and insulin sensitivity, an imbalance in energy regulation, and disturbances in lipid metabolism. Here, we review how age-related leptin resistance triggers metabolic disturbances and affects the longevity of obese patients. Furthermore, we discuss the potential impacts of leptin resistance on the decline of brown adipose tissue thermogenesis observed in elderly individuals.
Keywords: aging; brown adipose tissue; insulin sensitivity; leptin; obesity.