Leptin: New Roles Ahead?

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
January/February 2010 Volume 21, Number 1
©2010 Gürze Books

Early hopes that leptin might be an effective treatment for obesity never proved to be true. However, this hormone does play a key role in energy homeostasis, according to Christos S. Mantzoros, MD and colleagues, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston (Ann Intern Med 2010: 152:93).

Leptin is secreted mainly by white adipose tissue, and circulating blood levels of the hormone have been positively correlated with amounts of body fat. Fifteen years ago, when the hormone was first discovered, it was hoped that it could be an effective anti-obesity agent. However, leptin therapy has not been helpful in most studies of obese patients.

But, leptin may still have a new role in specific types of weight loss management, according to Dr. Mantzoros. It may prove useful and lead to weight loss among patients with congenital leptin deficiency. These researchers also speculate that replacing leptin may be able to help prevent “yo-yo” dieting by correcting certain neuroendocrine abnormalities. Several other areas where the authors feel that leptin may be helpful include restoring adulatory menstruation for patients with certain types of lip atrophy, for example, lip atrophy associated with HIV or active antiviral therapies.

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