Article on programming effect of leptin published in Trends in Biotechnology

26 August 2008

An article on ‘The influence of leptin on early life programming of obesity’ is available as an e-publication ahead of print. Claire Stocker and Mike Cawthorne, Clore Laboratory, University of Buckingham, UK, review the developmental origins of metabolic disease and the programming of physiological processes. They note that the suckling period is a crucial time for determining long-term weight gain and obesity. Further, there is an increased tendency towards obesity in adulthood among infants who were formula-fed as opposed to infants who were breastfed.

Breastfed infants show a slower growth rate compared with formula-fed infants. Leptin is present in breast milk but not in formula feeds. Leptin has a positive effect on satiety and the regulation of energy balance, and there is an inverse correlation of breast milk leptin concentration and body weight gain in infants.

Using a rodent model, the authors have shown that supplemental leptin to the dam during the third trimester and lactation, or just in lactation, programmes the offspring to resist high-fat diet induced obesity and insulin resistance in adulthood.

Claire Stocker and Mike Cawthorne argue that the role of orally administered supplemental leptin given in early life as an obesity protective agent should be considered once safety has been established. Obesity is now apparent in many children at the age of three years, so clinical proof of concept studies are feasible within a reasonable time-scale.

The article reference is:

Stocker CJ, Cawthorne MA. The influence of leptin on early life programming of obesity.
Trends Biotechnol. 2008 26(10):545–551. e-pub ahead of print 14 August 2008. doi:10.1016/j.tibtech.2008.06.004