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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 568343, 8 pages
Review Article

Role of Leptin in the Activation of Immune Cells

Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Virgen Macarena University Hospital, University of Seville, Av. Dr. Fedriani 3, 41071 Seville, Spain

Received 30 October 2009; Revised 15 January 2010; Accepted 23 January 2010

Academic Editor: Giuseppe Matarese

Copyright © 2010 Patricia Fernández-Riejos et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Adipose tissue is an active endocrine organ that secretes various humoral factors (adipokines), and its shift to production of proinflammatory cytokines in obesity likely contributes to the low-level systemic inflammation that may be present in metabolic syndrome-associated chronic pathologies such as atherosclerosis. Leptin is one of the most important hormones secreted by adipocytes, with a variety of physiological roles related to the control of metabolism and energy homeostasis. One of these functions is the connection between nutritional status and immune competence. The adipocyte-derived hormone leptin has been shown to regulate the immune response, innate and adaptive response, both in normal and pathological conditions. The role of leptin in regulating immune response has been assessed in vitro as well as in clinical studies. It has been shown that conditions of reduced leptin production are associated with increased infection susceptibility. Conversely, immune-mediated disorders such as autoimmune diseases are associated with increased secretion of leptin and production of proinflammatory pathogenic cytokines. Thus, leptin is a mediator of the inflammatory response.