Leptin Mechanism

Leptin is a small protein hormone involved in the control of energy intake, appetite, and metabolism. As a key regulator of food intake and body weight, it is one of the most important cytokines secreted by the adipose tissue.

Mechanism of action

The actions of leptin are exerted when it binds with a leptin receptor. At least six isoforms of this receptor are known including:

  • Ob-Ra or LepRa
  • Ob-Rb or LepRb
  • Ob-Rc or LepRc
  • Ob-Rd or LepRd
  • Ob-Re or LepRe
  • Ob-Rf or LepRf

These receptors are coded for by a single gene called LEPR. Of these six receptors, the longest isoform Ob-Rb is the only one fully capable of performing intracellular signalling and is present in the nuclei of the cells in the hypothalamus. This cell signalling is achieved via the Jak-Stat and MAP Kinase signal transduction pathways.

It is not yet clear whether leptin is able to cross the blood brain-barrier to reach the brain and access is generally thought to be achieved at the choroid plexus where there is an abundance of one form of leptin receptor.

Once bound to the Ob-Rb receptor, the signal transducer stat3 is phosphorylated and moves towards the cell nucleus where it is thought to modify gene expression. One example of this gene modification and therefore the function of leptin is the down-regulation of endocannabinoid receptor expression, which would usually act to increase appetite and therefore food intake.

In animal models, leptin resistance has been showed to suppress food intake and lead to weight loss.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jun 20, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2023, June 20). Leptin Mechanism. News-Medical. Retrieved on September 29, 2023 from https://www.news-medical.net/health/Leptin-Mechanism.aspx.

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "Leptin Mechanism". News-Medical. 29 September 2023. <https://www.news-medical.net/health/Leptin-Mechanism.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "Leptin Mechanism". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/health/Leptin-Mechanism.aspx. (accessed September 29, 2023).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2023. Leptin Mechanism. News-Medical, viewed 29 September 2023, https://www.news-medical.net/health/Leptin-Mechanism.aspx.


  1. Demetra Mills Demetra Mills United States says:

    Studies have shown that an absence of leptin in the body or leptin resistance can lead to uncontrolled feeding and weight gain.   Therefore doesn't leptin resistance increase food intake not suppress food intake as mention at the end of the article?

  2. Al Gorythm Al Gorythm United States says:

    The following statement is incorrect. Please fix it:
    "In animal models, leptin resistance has been showed to suppress food intake and lead to weight loss".
    Leptin resistance is the main reason for the most common type of obesity.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
You might also like...
Are a high-refined carbohydrate diet and the alterations resulting from its intake linked to small intestine changes?