Leptin-based adjuvants: An innovative approach to improve vaccine response

Sarah J. White, Matthew J. Taylor, Ryan T. Hurt, Michael D. Jensen, Gregory A. Poland

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Leptin is a pleiotropic hormone with multiple direct and regulatory immune functions. Leptin deficiency or resistance hinders the immunologic, metabolic, and neuroendocrinologic processes necessary to thwart infections and their associated complications, and to possibly protect against infectious diseases following vaccination. Circulating leptin levels are proportional to body fat mass. High circulating leptin concentrations, as observed in obesity, are indicative of the development of leptin transport saturation/signaling desensitization. Leptin bridges nutritional status and immunity. Although its role in vaccine response is currently unknown, over-nutrition has been shown to suppress vaccine-induced immune responses. For instance, obesity (BMI≥30kg/m2) is associated with lower antigen-specific antibody titers following influenza, hepatitis B, and tetanus vaccinations. This suggests that obesity, and possibly saturable leptin levels, are contributing factors to poor vaccine immunogenicity. While leptin-based therapies have not been investigated as vaccine adjuvants thus far, leptin's role in immunity suggests that application of these therapies is promising and worth investigation to enhance vaccine response in people with leptin signaling impairments. This review will examine the possibility of using leptin as a vaccine adjuvant by: briefly reviewing the distribution and signal transduction of leptin and its receptors; discussing the physiology of leptin with emphasis on its immune functions; reviewing the causes of attenuation of leptin signaling; and finally, providing plausible inferences for the innovative use of leptin-based pharmacotherapies as vaccine adjuvants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1666-1672
Number of pages7
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 25 2013


  • Adipokine
  • Adjuvant
  • Infectious diseases
  • Leptin
  • Obesity
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Veterinary
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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