Magazine article Science News

Obesity Hormone Tackles Wound Healing

Magazine article Science News

Obesity Hormone Tackles Wound Healing

Article excerpt

In 1995, the media hailed the newly discovered protein leptin as the "obesity hormone" because it seemed to regulate the amount of fat stored by a body. While leptin remains an unproven weight-loss treatment (SN: 7/18/98, p. 43), scientists have found that the hormone may have many additional roles.

Leptin seems to play a part in immunity, puberty, reproduction, and, according to a study in the January ENDOCRINOLOGY, wound healing. Investigators at Amgen in Thousand Oaks, Calif., the company developing leptin for commercial purposes, report that injecting the hormone into mice lacking it significantly speeds the rodents' ability to mend skin wounds. Applying leptin directly to a wound also accelerates its healing, the Amgen team reports.

Mice without a functioning gene for leptin become obese and develop diabetes. While trying to correct these problems by implanting leptin-releasing pumps under the skin of the animals, the Amgen group noticed something unexpected. "The wounds that surrounded the minipumps appeared to heal faster in leptin-treated animals," recalls Dimitry M. Danilenko.

This observation raised the possibility that leptin could correct a dangerous complication of diabetes. "All aspects of wound closure are impaired or slowed in diabetic animals and in diabetic people. Lots of wounds just never heal," notes Danilenko. "It's a major problem."

The investigators quickly began testing leptin specifically for its effects on healing. They applied the hormone directly to wounds, for example, to separate its local healing effect from a general improvement of metabolism after injection. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.