Multifaceted leptin network: The molecular connection between obesity and breast cancer

Neeraj K. Saxena, Dipali Sharma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


High plasma levels of leptin, a major adipocytokine produced by adipocytes, are correlated with increased fat mass in obese state. Leptin is emerging as a key candidate molecule linking obesity with breast cancer. Acting via endocrine, paracrine, and autocrine manner, leptin impacts various stages of breast tumorigenesis from initiation and primary tumor growth to metastatic progression. Leptin also modulates the tumor microenvironment mainly through supporting migration of endothelial cells, neo-angiogenesis and sustaining recruitment of macrophage and monocytes. Various studies have shown that hyperactive leptin-signaling network leads to concurrent activation of multiple oncogenic pathways resulting in enhanced proliferation, decreased apoptosis, acquisition of mesenchymal phenotype, potentiated migration and enhanced invasion potential of tumor cells. Furthermore, the capability of leptin to interact with other molecular effectors of obese state including, estrogen, IGF-1, insulin, VEGF and inflammatory cytokines further increases its impact on breast tumor progression in obese state. This article presents an overview of the studies investigating the involvement of leptin in breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-320
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Adipocytokine
  • Breast cancer
  • Estrogen
  • IGF-1
  • Inflammation
  • Leptin
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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