Objective: Leptin was discovered in 1994 as a hormone produced by adipose tissue with a modulatory effect on feeding behavior and weight control. Recently, the stomach has been identified as an important source of leptin and growing evidence has shown diverse functions for leptin in the gastrointestinal tract. Methods: Using leptin as a keyword in PubMed, more than 17 000 articles were identified, of which more than 500 articles were related to the role of leptin in the gastrointestinal tract. Available abstracts were reviewed and more than 200 original articles were reviewed in detail. Results: The available literature demonstrated that leptin can modulate several important functions of the gastrointestinal tract. Leptin interacts with the vagus nerve and cholecystokinin to delay gastric emptying and has a complex effect on motility of the small bowel. Leptin modulates absorption of macronutrients in the gastrointestinal tract differentially in physiologic and pathologic states. In physiologic states, exogenous leptin has been shown to decrease carbohydrate absorption and to increase the absorption of small peptides by the PepT1 di-/tripeptide transporter. In certain pathologic states, leptin has been shown to increase absorption of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. Leptin has been shown to be upregulated in the colonic mucosa in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Leptin stimulates gut mucosal cell proliferation and inhibits apoptosis. These functions have led to speculation about the role of leptin in tumorigenesis in the gastrointestinal tract, which is complicated by the multiple immunoregulatory effects of leptin. Conclusion: Leptin is an important modulator of major aspects of gastrointestinal tract functions, independent of its more well-described roles in appetite regulation and obesity.
- Nutrient absorption
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Nutrition and Dietetics