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The role of leptin in innate and adaptive immune responses

Eiva Bernotiene1, Gaby Palmer23 and Cem Gabay23*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Experimental Research, Institute of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania

2 Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland

3 Department of Pathology and Immunology, University of Geneva School of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2006, 8:217  doi:10.1186/ar2004

Published: 28 July 2006


Leptin is produced primarily by adipocytes and functions in a feedback loop regulating body weight. Leptin deficiency results in severe obesity and a variety of endocrine abnormalities in animals and humans. Several studies indicated that leptin plays an important role in immune responses. It exerts protective anti-inflammatory effects in models of acute inflammation and during activation of innate immune responses. In contrast, leptin stimulates T lymphocyte responses, thus having rather a proinflammatory role in experimental models of autoimmune diseases. Clinical studies have so far yielded inconsistent results, suggesting a rather complex role for leptin in immune-mediated inflammatory conditions in humans.