Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2001 May 25;177(1-2):125-34.

Role of insulin and insulin receptor in learning and memory.

Author information

Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, 9601 Medical Center Drive, Johns Hopkins University, Academic & Research Building, 3rd Floor, Rockville, MD 20858, USA.


As one of the most extensively studied protein hormones, insulin and its receptor have been known to play key roles in a variety of important biological functions. Until recent years, the functions of insulin and insulin receptor (IR) in the central nervous system (CNS) have largely remained unclear. IR is abundantly expressed in several specific brain regions that govern fundamental behaviors such as food intake, reproduction and high cognition. The IR from the periphery and CNS exhibit differences in both structure and function. In addition to that from the peripheral system, locally synthesized insulin in the brain has also been identified. Accumulated evidence has demonstrated that insulin/IR plays important roles in associative learning, as suggested by results from both interventive and correlative studies. Interruption of insulin production and IR activity causes deficits in learning and memory formation. Abnormal insulin/IR levels and activities are seen in Alzheimer's dementia, whereas administration of insulin significantly improves the cognitive performance of these patients. The synaptic bases for the action of insulin/IR include modifying neurotransmitter release processes at various types of presynaptic terminals and modulating the activities of both excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic receptors such as NMDA and GABA receptors, respectively. At the molecular level, insulin/IR participates in regulation of learning and memory via activation of specific signaling pathways, one of which is shown to be associated with the formation of long-term memory and is composed of intracellular molecules including the shc, Grb-r/SOS, Ras/Raf, and MEK/MAP kinases. Cross-talk with another IR pathway involving IRS1, PI3 kinase, and protein kinase C, as well as with the non-receptor tyrosine kinase pp60c-src, may also be associated with memory processing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center