News of the WeekCell Biology

Leptin Sparks Blood Vessel Growth

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Science  11 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5383, pp. 1582
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5383.1582

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A biochemist and her colleagues report on page 1683 that leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone made by fat cells, triggers angiogenesis in experimental animals. Just what leptin's double duty means for the workings of the body isn't clear yet, but research suggests several intriguing possibilities: that leptin contributes to the formation of the new blood vessels needed when fat increases in volume; that it may spur blood vessel growth in the maturing egg and early embryo and also in healing wounds; and that leptin may be deployed by some cancers to recruit blood vessels.