Leptin, immune function, and inflammation

Giuseppe Matarese, Claudio Procaccini, Valentina Pucino, Christos Mantzoros

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The past 20 years of research on leptin have provided crucial information on the link between metabolic state and immune system function. Adipocytes influence not only the endocrine system but also the immune response, through several cytokine-like mediators known as adipokines, which include leptin. Initially described as an antiobesity hormone, leptin has subsequently been shown also to influence hematopoiesis, thermogenesis, reproduction, angiogenesis, and more importantly immune homeostasis. As a cytokine, leptin can affect thymic homeostasis and the secretion of acute-phase reactants such as interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor-necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α). Leptin links nutritional status and proinflammatory T helper 1 (Th1) immune responses and the decrease in leptin plasma concentration during food deprivation leads to impaired immune function. Conversely, elevated circulating leptin levels in obesity appear to contribute to the low-grade inflammatory background which makes obese individuals more susceptible to increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes, or degenerative disease including autoimmunity and cancer. We discuss here the role of leptin in the regulation the immune response, innate and adaptive response, both in normal and pathological conditions and the influence of this cytokine/hormone in the physiopathology of inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLeptin: Regulation and Clinical Applications
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9783319099156, 9783319099149
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Adaptive immunity
  • Autoimmunity
  • Inflammation
  • Innate immunity
  • Leptin
  • Metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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