Obesity research finds leptin hormone isn't the overeating culprit

May 15, 2015 by Angela Koenig
Obesity research finds leptin hormone isn't the overeating culprit
Assistant Professor Diego Perez-Tilve

For years, scientists have pointed to leptin resistance as a possible cause of obesity. Research led by investigators at the University of Cincinnati (UC) Metabolic Diseases Institute, however, found that leptin action isn't the culprit.

"Restoring leptin action will not be effective at reducing obesity because leptin action is normal as opposed to being impaired in obesity," says assistant professor Diego Perez-Tilve, PhD, who directed the study "Diet-Induced Obese Mice Retain Endogenous Leptin Action" which appeared in the science journal Cell Metabolism on May 14, 2015.

Leptin is a hormone that plays a role in appetite and weight control. It is produced, Perez-Tilve says, when we are well fed, and it signals to the brain that there is ample energy and therefore reduces eating.

Leptin has been a hormone of interest since 1994, he says, when scientists discovered that a particular strain of obese mouse couldn't produce leptin at all.

"That mouse was very obese because it was hungry all the time. When they treated the mouse withleptin, it stopped eating so much and started losing weight."

Perez-Tilve says scientists were initially puzzled because have far higher than persons of average weight. They theorized that the body was making extra leptin to combat obesity and that the obese patients must therefore need more leptin than persons of average weight to signal the brain to stop eating. However, in human preclinical trials, "giving more leptin didn't work … they ate the same and remained obese, so it was concluded that obesity was a state of leptin resistance," he says.

In the UC study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, the team headed by Perez-Tilve took a different approach. They blocked leptin action in both lean and obese mice. The results were that both sets of mice ate more and gained weight to the same extent, proving that "leptin action was not impaired in the obese mouse."

With obesity affecting more than one-third of Americans and taking a toll on the nation's health care system, Perez-Tilve says the results of this study show "we need to change our way of thinking about how to use leptin as a potential target for therapy to treat ."

Explore further: 'Satiety hormone' leptin links obesity to high blood pressure

Related Stories

20 years of leptin – the obesity related hormone

September 25, 2014

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the discovery of leptin – the hormone that tells our brains when we've eaten enough and the first reported genetic basis for obesity. The discovery will be celebrated this month in a special ...

Multihormone reverses metabolic damage of high calorie diet

January 15, 2014

Importantly, the scientists found out that treatment of obese mice with this GLP-1/Glucagon co-agonist improves metabolism and body weight associated with restored function of the weight lowering hormone leptin, even in the ...

Recommended for you

Success in the 3-D bioprinting of cartilage

April 28, 2017

A team of researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy has managed to generate cartilage tissue by printing stem cells using a 3-D-bioprinter. The fact that the stem cells survived being printed in this manner is a success in itself. ...

Mouse teeth providing new insights into tissue regeneration

April 27, 2017

Researchers hope to one day use stem cells to heal burns, patch damaged heart tissue, even grow kidneys and other transplantable organs from scratch. This dream edges closer to reality every year, but one of the enduring ...

Dentistry research ID's novel marker for left-handedness

April 27, 2017

Individuals with a slender lower face are about 25 percent more likely to be left-handed. This unexpected finding was identified in 13,536 individuals who participated in three national surveys conducted in the United States.

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.