The new skinny on leptin

September 26, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Leptin—commonly dubbed the "fat hormone"—does more than tell the brain when to eat. A new study by researchers at The University of Akron and Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) shows that leptin may play a role in hearing and vision loss. This discovery, made in zebrafish treated to produce low leptin, could ultimately help doctors better understand sensory loss in humans.

While the scientists expected the leptin-deficient fish would be unable metabolize fat, "we did not expect that the leptin also affects the development of sensory systems," says Richard Londraville, UA professor of biology.

"We discovered that leptin influences the development of eyes and ears in fish," says Londraville, explaining how the popular hormone of study (the subject of about 30,000 reports since its 1994 discovery) also controls body temperature, immune function and . The hormone's newly discovered impact on the of fish draws renewed interest to previous leptin research on mice, Londraville says. These studies revealed that leptin loss also affects eye and ear development in mice.

Published in the Sept. 15, 2012 General and Comparative Endocrinology journal, "Knockdown of leptin A expression dramatically alters development" explores leptin's evolution, or what it used to do, to provide clues to its impact on humans.

"There is some evidence that leptin deficiencies in fish likely have the same effect on humans, so this may be pointing toward something more widespread than we thought," Londraville says. "Perhaps more research should be spent on the sensory effects of leptin, which hasn't received much attention."

Londraville and his research colleagues will further their research, which was initially launched with a $250,000 National Institutes of Health grant. The team was granted an additional $435,000 in NIH funding, which they will use over the next three years to study how leptin is controlled differently in mammals and fish and the resulting consequences.

Explore further: High amounts of the hormone leptin are linked to decreased depression

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Artificial beta cells

December 8, 2016

Researchers led by ETH Professor Martin Fussenegger at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel have produced artificial beta cells using a straightforward engineering approach.

Key regulator of bone development identified

December 8, 2016

Loss of a key protein leads to defects in skeletal development including reduced bone density and a shortening of the fingers and toes—a condition known as brachydactyly. The discovery was made by researchers at Penn State ...

Researchers question lifelong immunity to toxoplasmosis

December 8, 2016

Medical students are taught that once infected with Toxoplasma gondii—the "cat parasite"—then you're protected from reinfection for the rest of your life. This dogma should be questioned, argue researchers in an Opinion ...

TET proteins drive early neurogenesis

December 7, 2016

The fate of stem cells is determined by series of choices that sequentially narrow their available options until stem cells' offspring have found their station and purpose in the body. Their decisions are guided in part by ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.