Peripheral metabolic actions of leptin.
The adipocyte-derived hormone, leptin, regulates food intake and systemic fuel metabolism; ob /ob mice, which lack functional leptin, exhibit an obesity syndrome that is similar to morbid obesity in humans. Leptin receptors are expressed most abundantly in the brain but are also present in several peripheral tissues. The role of leptin in controlling energy homeostasis has thus far focused on brain receptors and neuroendocrine pathways that regulate feeding behaviour and sympathetic nervous system activity. This chapter focuses on mounting evidence that leptin's effects on energy balance are also mediated by direct peripheral actions on key metabolic organs such as skeletal muscle, liver, pancreas and adipose tissue. Strong evidence indicates that peripheral leptin receptors regulate cellular lipid balance, favouring beta-oxidation over triacylglycerol storage. There are data to indicate that peripheral leptin also modulates glucose metabolism and insulin action; however, its precise role in controlling gluco-regulatory pathways remains uncertain and requires further investigation.
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