Leptin in autoimmune diseases

C. Procaccini, V. Pucino, C.S. Mantzoros, G. Matarese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


The past twenty years of research on leptin has provided crucial information on the link between metabolic state and immune system function. Adipocytes influence not only the endocrine system but also the immune response, through several cytokine-like mediators known as adipokines, which include leptin. Initially described as an antiobesity hormone, leptin has subsequently been shown also to influence hematopoiesis, thermogenesis, reproduction, angiogenesis, and more importantly immune homeostasis. As a cytokine, leptin can affect thymic homeostasis and the secretion of acute-phase reactants such as interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor-necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α). Leptin links nutritional status and proinflammatory T helper 1 (Th1) immune responses and the decrease in leptin plasma concentration during food deprivation leads to impaired immune function. Conversely, elevated circulating leptin levels in obesity appear to contribute to the low-grade inflammatory background which makes obese individuals more susceptible to increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, or degenerative disease including autoimmunity and cancer. In this review, we provide an overview of recent advances on the role of leptin in the pathogenesis of several autoimmune disorders that may be of particular relevance in the modulation of the autoimmune attack through metabolic-based therapeutic approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-104
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Early online date23 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015


  • Leptin
  • Metabolism
  • T cells
  • Autoimmunity


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