Dietary components in the development of leptin resistance

Joseph R. Vasselli, Philip J. Scarpace, Ruth B.S. Harris, William A. Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Classically, leptin resistance has been associated with increased body fat and circulating leptin levels, and the condition is believed to contribute to the onset and/or maintenance of obesity. Although a great deal is known about the central nervous system mechanisms mediating leptin resistance, considerably less is known about the role of diet in establishing and maintaining this altered hormonal state. An exciting new finding has recently been published demonstrating the existence of leptin resistance in normal-weight rats with lean leptin levels by feeding them a high-concentration-fructose diet. This finding has opened the possibility that specific macronutrients may be capable of inducing leptin resistance, independently of the amount of body fat or circulating leptin present in the treated animals. This review describes several lines of research that have recently emerged indicating that specific types of dietary sugars and fats are capable of inducing leptin resistance in experimental rodent models. The results further show that diet-induced leptin resistance is capable of increasing energy intake and elevating body weight gain under appropriate dietary challenges. It appears that biological mechanisms on multiple levels may underlie the dietary induction of leptin resistance, including alterations in the leptin blood-to-brain transport system, in peripheral glucose metabolism, and in central leptin receptor signaling pathways. What is clear from the findings reviewed here is that diet-induced leptin resistance can occur in the absence of elevated circulating leptin levels and body weight, rendering it a potential cause and/or predisposing factor to excess body weight gain and obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-175
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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