A Key Role of Leptin in the Control of Regulatory T Cell Proliferation

Veronica De Rosa, Claudio Procaccini, Gaetano Calì, Giuseppe Pirozzi, Silvia Fontana, Serafino Zappacosta, Antonio La Cava, Giuseppe Matarese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report here that leptin can act as a negative signal for the proliferation of human naturally occurring Foxp3 +CD4 +CD25 + regulatory T (T reg) cells. Freshly isolated T reg cells produced leptin and expressed high amounts of leptin receptor (ObR). In vitro neutralization with leptin monoclonal antibody (mAb), during anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 stimulation, resulted in T reg cell proliferation, which was interleukin-2 (IL-2) dependent. T reg cells that proliferated in the presence of leptin mAb had increased expression of Foxp3 and remained suppressive. The phenomena appeared secondary to leptin signaling via ObR and, importantly, leptin neutralization reversed the anergic state of the T reg cells, as indicated by downmodulation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27 (p27 kip1) and the phosphorylation of the extracellular-related kinases 1 (ERK1) and ERK2. Together with the finding of enhanced proliferation of T reg cells observed in leptin- and ObR-deficient mice, these results suggest a potential for therapeutic interventions in immune and autoimmune diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-255
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 23 2007



ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Immunology


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