Leptin: Could It Be The Connection Between Obesity and Diabetes?

| Nov 9, 2007

The word leptin comes from the Greek word leptos, meaning thin. A hormone produced by fat cells, it binds to a spot in the brain known as the satiety center, thereby announcing to the brain that the body has had enough to eat, that plenty of energy is stored in the fat, and that there is no need to eat any more right now. In short, its effect on the brain is to reduce appetite.

Obese people have a lot of stored fat, and they produce unusually high levels of leptin. Unfortunately, their leptin doesn't work like it's supposed to. Why that occurs was the subject of recent research about leptin's effects on beta cells, performed by scientists at the Joslin Center. Previous test tube studies have found leptin receptors in the pancreas as well as the brain. When leptin binds to the pancreas receptors, it inhibits insulin secretion in the beta cells; that is, it keeps insulin levels from getting too high.

To figure out why that mechanism fails to work in obese people, the researchers engineered themselves some mice that lacked leptin receptors in the pancreas. Those mice showed improved glucose tolerance, greater insulin secretion, and beta cell growth. Since leptin keeps insulin levels from getting too high, the lack of leptin action apparently enhanced beta cell functioning and promoted insulin secretion.

Then the researchers put those engineered mice and some control mice on a high fat diet. Both groups of mice grew obese, but, oddly enough, the mice without the leptin receptors developed glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, both of which are way stations on the road to diabetes.

The researchers speculate that leptin resistance in pancreatic beta cells somehow contributes to high insulin levels, beta cell failure, and the consequent glucose intolerance experienced by obese people. Future studies will look at the interaction of insulin and leptin signaling in beta cells in an effort to further explain the relationship between diabetes and obesity.

* * *

Sources: Joslin Diabetes Center, October 2007; Wikipedia; Journal of Clinical Investigation, September 2007

Click Here To View Or Post Comments

Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Insulin, Professional Issues, Weight Loss


Diabetes Health Professional
Take the Diabetes Health Pump Survey
See What's Inside
Read this FREE issue now
For healthcare professionals only

You can view the current or previous issues of Diabetes Health online, in their entirety, anytime you want.
Click Here To View

See if you qualify for our free healthcare professional magazines. Click here to start your application for Pre-Diabetes Health, Diabetes Health Pharmacist and Diabetes Health Professional.

Learn More About the Professional Subscription

Free Diabetes Health e-Newsletter

Latest
Popular
Top Rated
Print | Email | Share | Comments (0)

You May Also Be Interested In...


Comments


Add your comments about this article below. You can add comments as a registered user or anonymously. If you choose to post anonymously your comments will be sent to our moderator for approval before they appear on this page. If you choose to post as a registered user your comments will appear instantly.

When voicing your views via the comment feature, please respect the Diabetes Health community by refraining from comments that could be considered offensive to other people. Diabetes Health reserves the right to remove comments when necessary to maintain the cordial voice of the diabetes community.

For your privacy and protection, we ask that you do not include personal details such as address or telephone number in any comments posted.

Don't have your Diabetes Health Username? Register now and add your comments to all our content.

Have Your Say...


Username: Password:
Comment:
©1991-2014 Diabetes Health | Home | Privacy | Press | Advertising | Help | Contact Us | Donate | Sitemap

Diabetes Health Medical Disclaimer

The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. Opinions expressed here are the opinions of writers, contributors, and commentators, and are not necessarily those of Diabetes Health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website.