Leptin can regulate several immune functions. However, the role of leptin on lymphocyte function has not been recognized in vivo. Accordingly, we have investigated the effect of leptin on starvation-induced immune dysfunction using diet-induced obese mice. To induce obesity, C57BL/6J mice were fed a high-fat diet for 14 weeks and control mice were fed a standard diet for the same period. The obese and control groups of mice were then starved for 48 h, and received intraperitoneal injections of recombinant leptin or phosphate-buffered saline four times during starvation. Other control mice in both diet groups were free fed without being starved. Although starvation of the control mice dramatically reduced the weights of the immune organs, cytokine production and increased proliferation of cultured splenocytes, these levels returned to those of the free-feeding groups with exogenous leptin administration. However, these effects of leptin were not observed in obese mice. These findings provide some evidence that leptin can regulate the immune function in vivo. It is also suggested that the action of leptin might not appear in obesity.
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