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Leptin is a cytokine protein hormone produced by the body's adipose cells. leptin comes from the Greek word “leptos” for thin[1]. Leptin provides a vital role in regulating energy balance[2]. The concentration of leptin found is dependent on the total amount of body fat, thus it differs between individuals. It works by inhibiting hunger by sending signals to the hypothalamus[3].

The hormone was discovered through experimental research on obese mice by chance in Jackson laboratories[1]. The research produced data indicating that mice with homozygous mutation of the leptin gene and thus leptin deficiency, developed extreme obesity, diabetes, neuroendocrine abnormalities and infertility[1].

Leptin is thought to be required for energy homeostasis by targeting LEPRb- expressing neurones in the brain, but more specifically the hypothalamus[4]. The immediate effects of the release of leptin include the regulation of appetite by binding to specific receptors that induce complex neural circuits that activate either anorexigenic (appetite suppressing) or orexigenic (appetite stimulating) neuropeptides to control food intake[1].

Leptin is a 16 kDA adipose-derived cytokine protein which consists of 167 amino acids. This protein is coded by the ob gene on chromosome 7.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Theodore Kelesidis, M.D.,* Iosif Kelesidis, M.D.,* Sharon Chou, M.D.,* and Christos S. Mantzoros, M.D., D.Sc. The role of Leptin in human physiology: emerging clinical applications Ann Intern Med. 2010; 150(2) 93-103
  2. Klok MD1, Jakobsdottir S, Drent ML.The role of leptin and ghrelin in the regulation of food intake and body weight in humans: a review. 2007 Jan. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17212793
  3. Hormone Health Network. What does Leptin do? 2016. Available from: http://www.hormone.org/hormones-and-health/what-do-hormones-do/cortisol/leptin
  4. Yingjiang Zhou and Liangyou Rui. Leptin signalling and Leptin Resistance. Front Med. 2013 Jun; 7(2): 207–222.
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