Ten years of leptin replacement therapy


J Licinio, John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University, Garran Road, building 131, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia. E-mail: julio.licinio@anu.edu.au


Leptin is a pleiotropic cytokine-like hormone that is involved in the regulation of energy intake and expenditure, neuroendocrine function, immunity and lipid and glucose metabolism. The few humans with genetically based leptin deficiency provide a unique model to assess those effects. We have identified five Turkish patients (one male and two female adults; one boy and one girl) with congenital leptin deficiency due to a missense mutation in the leptin gene. Four of these patients were treated with physiological doses of recombinant methionyl human leptin. Body composition, brain structure and function, behaviour, immunity and endocrine and metabolic parameters were evaluated before and during treatment. Our results showed that leptin has peripheral, hypothalamic and extra-hypothalamic effects. Within the endocrine system, leptin regulates the circadian rhythms of cortisol, thyroid-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. In the brain, leptin controls energy balance and body weight, and plays a role on neurogenesis and brain function. Leptin is a key element of the adiposinsular axis, enhances immune response, and regulates inflammation, coagulation, fibrinolysis and platelet aggregation. Our 10-year experience in treating these unique patients provided valuable data on the peripheral and central effects of leptin. Those results can be taken into account for the development of leptin-based therapies for other diseases.