Leptin and inflammation-associated cachexia in chronic kidney disease

R. H. Mak, W. Cheung, R. D. Cone, D. L. Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

144 Scopus citations


Leptin is an adipocyte-derived hormone that acts as a major regulator of food intake and energy homeostasis. It circulates both as a free and as a protein-bound entity. Leptin is released into the blood in proportion to the amount of body fat and exerts sustained inhibitory effects on food intake while increasing energy expenditure. The leptin receptor belongs to the class I cytokine receptor superfamily and possesses strong homology to the signal-transducing subunits of the IL-6 receptor. The hypothalamic melanocortin system, and specifically the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC-4R), is critical in mediating leptin's effect on appetite and metabolism. Serum leptin concentrations are elevated in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and correlate with C-reactive protein levels suggesting that inflammation is an important factor that contributes to hyperleptinemia in CKD. Hyperleptinemia may be important in the pathogenesis of inflammation-associated cachexia in CKD. We showed that experimental uremic cachexia was attenuated in db/db mice, a model of leptin receptor deficiency. Nephrectomy in these animals did not result in any change in weight gain, body composition, resting metabolic rate, and efficiency of food consumption. Furthermore, experimental uremic cachexia could be ameliorated by blocking leptin signaling through the hypothalamic MC-4R. MC-4R knockout mice or mice administered the MC-4R and MC-3R antagonist, agouti-related peptide, resisted uremia-induced loss of lean body mass and maintained normal basal metabolic rates. Thus, melanocortin receptor antagonism may provide a novel therapeutic strategy for inflammation-associated cachexia in CKD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)794-797
Number of pages4
JournalKidney International
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Cachexia
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation
  • Leptin
  • Melanocortin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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