A minute-to-minute crosstalk between the hypothalamic neuropeptide Y (NPY) network and the hormone leptin is essential for energy homeostasis. Leptin insufficiency i.e. lack of leptin restraint due to genetic and environmental factors on the hypothalamic NPY system confers obesity, a cluster of metabolic afflictions and shorter lifespan. A state-of-the-art gene transfer technology using recombinant adeno-associated viral vector to overcome hypothalamic leptin insufficiency was employed in rodent models of obesity, metabolic syndrome and shorter lifespan. Our findings show that life-long tonic repression of NPY system with a stable increase in leptin availability in the hypothalamus prevented the age-related and high fat-diet-induced obesity, hyperinsulinemia and diabetes and extended lifespan. Additional health benefits include increased energy expenditure and normalization of neuroendocrine control on reproduction, and promotion of brain and bone growth. We propose that central leptin gene therapy or novel long-acting leptin mimetics should be tested clinically to decelerate the worldwide epidemic of obesity, diabetes and shortened lifespan.
Keywords: Hypothalamic NPY, leptin gene therapy, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, bone growth
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