How can a leptin resistance affect my metabolism?

Dr. Jack Merendino, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
Leptin resistance is a condition associated with obesity, but it is really not clear whether it is the cause of obesity, the result of obesity, or just an association. Leptin normally suppresses appetite. A certain strain of mouse that suffered from severe obesity was found to be deficient in leptin, and in these mice treatment with leptin causes the mice to become normal body weight. It was initially thought that this might be a common cause of obesity in humans. But it turns out that most obese people have higher-than-normal amounts of leptin in their bodies, not lower. It seems that the leptin is there, but that the body is not responding to it -- that the body is “resistant” to the effects of leptin. In some experimental settings, treatment with large amounts of leptin may overcome this resistance and promote weight loss, but from studies in patient volunteers is does not appear that this is an effective treatment in most obese or overweight people. At present leptin is approved as a medication in the U.S. only for rare cases of leptin deficiency or for generalized lipodystrophy -- a condition in which there is little or no body fat to help regulate energy metabolism. Leptin is not approved for weight loss, though there are lots of internet scams claiming that you can get leptin and that it will help you lose weight.
Kent Holtorf, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
One of the potentially treatable causes of reduced metabolic rate in a large percentage of overweight individuals is shown to be a leptin resistance. The metabolic effects of leptin resistance include a diminished metabolic rate, reduced production of the active thyroid hormone, T3, and an inhibition of lipolysis (fat breakdown).

Continue Learning about Endocrine System

Endocrine System

Your endocrine system works with your nervous system to control important bodily functions. The endocrine systems responsibilities include regulating growth, sexual development and function, metabolism and mood. The endocrine syst...

em also helps give your body the energy it needs to function properly. Endocrine glands secrete hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones are considered chemical messengers, coordinating your body by transferring information from one set of cells to another. Your endocrine system health can be affected by hormone imbalances resulting from impaired glands. A hormone imbalance can cause problems with bodily growth, sexual development, metabolism and other bodily functions. Endocrine system diseases or conditions include diabetes, growth disorders and osteoporosis.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.