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Title: Regulation and Role of Leptin: Poultry

item McMurtry, John

Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/19/2007
Publication Date: 4/15/2008
Citation: McMurtry, J.P. 2008. Regulation and Role of Leptin: Poultry. Encyclopedia of Animal Science. Pond, W. Bell, A., Eds.; Taylor & Francis Group: New York, 2008. Available:

Interpretive Summary: The discovery of leptin a decade ago was a significant discovery in the study of metabolism, providing a new tool to investigate energy metabolism and food intake regulation. Despite the enigmatic controversy surrounding the avian leptin gene and its protein, there is clear evidence for a fully functional leptin receptor system in poultry. Mammalian leptins when administered to birds elicit a multitude of physiological responses similar to that reported for mammals. Likewise, a well-documented receptor system is present in birds. Leptin has been documented to be involved in avian reproduction, appetite regulation, energy metabolism, embryogenesis, and immune function. Clearly, more work is needed to enhance our understanding of its role in avian bone metabolism and disease situations which affect poultry production. This work will be of interest to other scientists and poultry geneticists.

Technical Abstract: The recently discovered protein, leptin, which is secreted by fat cells, has been implicated in the regulation of appetite, energy balance, and the neuroendocrine axis in poultry. The leptin receptor has been cloned and is a member of the class I cytokine family of receptors is found in the brain and multiple peripheral tissues. The interaction of leptin in energy metabolism, feed intake regulation, and immune function in birds is reviewed. Circulating leptin is influenced by age, sex, and nutrition, with zinc being an important regulator of leptin secretion. A potentially important report to poultry breeders is the finding that single nucleotide polymorphisms exist for the chicken leptin receptor gene, and that these polymorphisms are linked to fatness traits in meat-type chickens.