Obesity is an increasing health problem not only in the industrialized western countries but, also in the developing countries like India. The adipose tissue specific obese (ob) gene and its peptide product leptin were discovered in 1994. Leptin binding to specific receptors in the hypothalamus results in altered expression of orexigenic and anorexigenic neuropeptides that regulate neuroendocrine functions and energy homeostasis. Recent patents and experimental evidence suggest that leptin plays an important role in the pathogenesis of obesity and eating disorders. Central leptin action also includes regulation of blood pressure, bone mass, and immune function. Peripherally also, leptin plays an important role in direct regulation of immune cells, pancreatic beta cells, adipocytes and muscle cells. Leptin receptors are present on human endothelial cells, and it has been shown to induce angiogenesis both in vitro and in vivo. Further, leptin appears to be a potential pressure and volume regulating factor and may function pathophysiologically as a common link to obesity and hypertension. Obesity is also a risk factor for several other cardiovascular diseases like myocardial hypertrophy, myocardial infarction, coronary atherosclerosis and increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Recent progress in understanding central and peripheral leptin receptor signaling pathways may provide potential new targets to combat obesity, hypertension etc.
Keywords: Leptin, neuropeptides, Leptin receptors, Leptin Resistance, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, angiogenesis
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