Leptin is a hormone released by adipose tissue that plays a key role in the control of energy homeostasis through its binding to leptin receptors (LepR), mainly expressed in the hypothalamus. Most scientific evidence points to leptin’s satiating effect being due to its dual capacity to promote the expression of anorexigenic neuropeptides and to reduce orexigenic expression in the hypothalamus. However, it has also been demonstrated that leptin can stimulate (i) thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue (BAT) and (ii) the browning of white adipose tissue (WAT). Since the demonstration of the importance of BAT in humans 10 years ago, its study has aroused great interest, mainly in the improvement of obesity-associated metabolic disorders through the induction of thermogenesis. Consequently, several strategies targeting BAT activation (mainly in rodent models) have demonstrated great potential to improve hyperlipidemias, hepatic steatosis, insulin resistance and weight gain, leading to an overall healthier metabolic profile. Here, we review the potential therapeutic ability of leptin to correct obesity and other metabolic disorders, not only through its satiating effect, but by also utilizing its thermogenic properties.
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