Leptin modulation of innate immunity

The primary amino acid sequence of leptin indicated that it could belong to the long-chain helical cytokine family (11), such as IL-2, IL-12, and growth hormone (GH). In fact, leptin receptor (Ob-R) shows sequence homology to members of the class I cytokine receptor (gp130) superfamily (12), which includes the receptor for IL-6, LIF, and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF). Moreover, Ob-R has been shown to have the signalling capabilities of IL-6-type cytokine receptors (13); this is detailed later in this chapter. In this context, a role for leptin in the regulation of innate immunity has been proposed (10,14). Figure 1 summarizes the role of leptin modulating the function of cells involved in both innate and adaptive immunity.

Consistent with this role of leptin in the mechanisms of immune response and host defense, circulating leptin levels are increased upon infectious and inflammatory stimuli such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), turpentine, and cytokines (15,16). On the other hand, unlike other members of the IL-6 family, it is not clear that leptin may induce the expression of acute phase proteins, and contradictory data have been provided (16,17). The role of leptin regulating innate immunity has been previously reviewed (5) and it has been depicted in Fig. 1.

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