Leptin: an unappreciated key player in SLE

  • Qihang Yuan
  • Haifeng Chen
  • Xia LiEmail author
  • Jing WeiEmail author
Review Article


Leptin is the forerunner of the adipokine superfamily and plays a key role in regulating energy expenditure and neuroendocrine function. Researches into leptin put emphasize not only on the metabolic role but also its immunoregulatory effect on immune response through immunocyte activation and cytokine secretion. Leptin acts on receptors that are widespread throughout the body and that are expressed across many tissue types. As a consequence, the abnormal expression of leptin has been found to correlate with a number of diseases, including cancers, autoimmune diseases, and cardiovascular diseases. The significance of leptin in the development of autoimmune diseases is becoming increasingly prominent. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a severe atypical autoimmune disease that causes damage to multiple organ systems. It is characterised by the following: impaired clearance of apoptotic cells, loss of tolerance to self-antigens, aberrant activation of T cells and B cells, and chronic inflammation. The heightened immunocyte response in SLE means that these physiological systems are particularly vulnerable to regulation by leptin in addition to being of great significance to the research field. Our current review provides insight into the regulatory roles that leptin plays on immune effector cells in SLE.


Immunocytes Leptin Systemic lupus erythematosus 


Authors’ contribution

The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper. Qihang Yuan contributed to the design of the study, collection and interpretation of data, and drafting and revising the manuscript. Haifeng Chen was responsible for the interpretation of data and drafting the manuscript. Xia Li and Jing Wei conceived the study and reviewed/edited the manuscript.

Funding information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 81671606, 81501345), Natural Science Foundation of Liaoning Province (grant no. 20180550789), College Scientific Research Project of Education Department of Liaoning Province (grant no. LQ2017007), and Dalian Medical University Foundation for Teaching Reform Project of Undergraduate Innovative Talents Training (grant no. 111507010322).

Compliance with ethical standards



Ethical approval

Submitted paper is a review of relevant literature. This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© International League of Associations for Rheumatology (ILAR) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Immunology, College of Basic Medical ScienceDalian Medical UniversityLiaoningChina
  2. 2.Department of Immunology and RheumatologyThe Affiliated Drum Tower Hospital of Nanjing University Medical SchoolJiangsuChina

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