Balancing susceptibility to infection and autoimmunity: A role for leptin?

Giuseppe Matarese, Antonio La Cava, Veronica Sanna, Graham M. Lord, Robert I. Lechler, Silvia Fontana, Serafino Zappacosta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The immune responses to many infections have long been known to share features with autoimmune responses. In particular, both types of response are typified by the enhanced reactivity of T helper 1 cells - with high levels of interleukin-2, interferon γ and tumor necrosis factor α - and are accompanied often by organ-specific and/or systemic damage and the production of IgG. Paradoxically, the geographical distributions of incidence of infectious diseases and autoimmunity are complementary, rather than coincident. In less-developed societies, an epidemiological association between susceptibility to infection and malnutrition has been observed, whereas in affluent countries, an increased incidence of autoimmune diseases has been described. We suggest that these observations can be explained partly by taking into consideration the immune effects of the adipocyte-derived hormone leptin, which has been shown recently to act as a link between nutritional status and the immune response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-187
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Immunology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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