Leptin is a peptide hormone that plays a very important role in regulating intake and spending of energy in the human body. It affects appetite and metabolism. Its name from ancient Greek means thin, which is not at all coincidental, considering this hormone not only curbs appetite but makes us more active so that we burn more energy.
The discovery of leptin in 1994 was all thanks to a research study aimed at finding the reasons for the exceptional obesity in a particular species of mice. Scientists came to the conclusion that they had a mutation in the gene responsible for leptin synthesis.
Since leptin suppresses appetite so sufficiently, its absence in the mutated mice led them to uncontrollable eating, causing obesity in turn.
The gene for leptin is also called the "obesity gene" and is located in chromosome 7. The majority of leptin that circulates in the human body is produced by fatty tissue and only minimal quantities are secreted by the epithelial cells of the stomach and placenta.
Once in the blood, leptin is transported to the hypothalamus in the brain, where it stimulates feelings of satiety and pleasure. The amount of leptin in the body increases as fatty tissue amounts increase.
Benefits of Leptin
The first and most important function of leptin is that it suppresses the urge for food consumption, making it an excellent aid in the battle against obesity.
Leptin stimulates the secretion of a number of productive and other pituitary hormones. It raises body temperature so that greater amounts of energy are burned.
Leptin counteracts 2 appetite stimulants, while at the same time boosting the effects of another hormone that suppresses appetite - alpha-MSH.
In addition to its effect in controlling weight, leptin has a positive influence on a range of other health-related factors that arise with aging.
Of utmost importance is this hormone's influence on cardiovascular health. The heart has leptin receptors which are responsible for its proper functioning. Problems with leptin functions are a risk factor for developing cardiovascular diseases, toxin release in the arteries and atherosclerosis.
Besides everything else, leptin plays a role in the correct functioning of platelets and blood clotting. People having leptin resistance have a higher risk of stroke because disrupted leptin function increases risk of the formation of blood clots.
Since leptin affects insulin function, problems with it may lead to insulin resistance and type II diabetes.
Since leptin has such a wide range of functions, in recent times we've been seeing a surging interest among experts in finding ways to improve leptin function and decrease leptin resistance.
Examples include solutions based on certain diets aimed specifically at leptin function; changes in lifestyle expressed in exercising and decreasing sedentariness.
A lot of people suffer from leptin resistance. They are overweight to the point where they do have high levels of leptin in their body but are resistant to its effects at the same time.
The main cause of leptin resistance are the high levels of inflammation which are primarily linked to weight gain.
Persons with leptin resistance possess symptoms of being constantly hungry. In this way, leptin's lack of functionality leads to increased appetite and severe hunger, a slowed metabolism and high levels of glucose.