Leptin is a hormone made by adipose cells that helps to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger. Leptin is opposed by the actions of the hormone ghrelin, the “hunger hormone”. Both hormones act on receptors in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus to regulate appetite to achieve energy homeostasis. In obesity, a decreased sensitivity to leptin occurs, resulting in an inability to detect satiety despite high energy stores.
Although regulation of fat stores is deemed to be the primary function of leptin, it also plays a role in other physiological processes, as evidenced by its multiple sites of synthesis other than fat cells, and the multiple cell types beside hypothalamic cells that have leptin receptors. Many of these additional functions are yet to be defined. The Ob(Lep) gene (Ob for obese, Lep for leptin) is located on chromosome 7 in humans. Human leptin is a 16-kDa protein of 167 amino acids.
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