Leptin Lizards

Female fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus) Conversations between neighbors in the biology department at the University of Akron have spawned a broader evolutionary view of leptin, the hormone that periodically makes headlines as a potential obesity cure-all. First described as an "adipostat" in mammals that signals the status of fat stores, leptin has since been implicated in feeding behavior, body temperature regulation, and onset of puberty.1,2 Its recent discovery in reptiles suggests a role

Ricki Lewis
Feb 6, 2000


Female fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)
Conversations between neighbors in the biology department at the University of Akron have spawned a broader evolutionary view of leptin, the hormone that periodically makes headlines as a potential obesity cure-all. First described as an "adipostat" in mammals that signals the status of fat stores, leptin has since been implicated in feeding behavior, body temperature regulation, and onset of puberty.1,2 Its recent discovery in reptiles suggests a role in life history traits that are intimately linked to energy acquisition and use, such as body size, age at first reproduction, and clutch size.

Richard Londraville, who discovered leptin in several species of bony fishes,3 explains how the unlikely partnership with Peter Niewiarowski began. "He is a lizard ecologist, interested in how lizards decide what to do with energy. Should they lay eggs? Grow? Run away? He has shown that in some...

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