A human genetic mutation that reduces the circulating level of the hormone leptin leads to obesity, showing that we are like mice in this respect. The result, in this week’s Nature (Vol. 414, No. 6859, pp. 34-35, 01 Nov 2001), shows that the effects of this hormone on food intake vary over a broad range of concentrations, and are not ‘all-or-nothing’.
Stephen O'Rahilly, of the University of Cambridge, UK, and colleagues, studied three families with a mutation in one copy of their leptin genes. Fat cells release leptin, so overweight people usually have more of it, but the affected individuals were fatter than normal family members and had less leptin.
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