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Leptin Gene Therapy Possible New Option in Treating Diabetes and Obesity

Apr 25, 2013

Leptin therapy studies are looking very promising for the treatment of diabetes in both type 1 and 2 patients…. 

Leptin is a hormone known to have positive effects on appetite, satiety, energy expenditure and glucose metabolism. Evidence from research done by Morton and Schwartz suggests that leptin and insulin act via the brain as adiposity negative feedback signals. Leptin was found in recent studies to normalize hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia and increase insulin sensitivity.


The brain, specifically the hypothalamus, regulates appetite and energy expenditure. Leptin enters the brain through the blood brain barrier and cerebrospinal fluid. Once in the brain, leptin acts in the hypothalamus by inhibiting neuropeptide Y neurons.

Leptin plasma concentrations increase in the body proportional to body fat mass, to maintain body fat stores.

Leptin use in rodents was found to both reduce food intake and increase energy expenditure. Rodents found to be deficient in leptin developed obesity, insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, impaired glucose and diabetes. Leptin given to rodents with reduced leptin levels ended up having improvements in diabetes and obesity.

In the animal studies, leptin gene therapy generally improved both type 1 and 2 diabetes along with obesity. More studies need to be completed looking into the clinical use of leptin but leptin gene therapy looks like a promising treatment option for diabetes and obesity.


"The Role of Leptin in the Control of Insulin-glucose Axis." Frontiers. N.p., 8 Apr. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2013.