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Peptides. 2006 Jun;27(6):1420-5. Epub 2005 Nov 15.

Effects of leptin on memory processing.

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Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC), VA Medical Center, St. Louis, MO 63106, USA.


Leptin is a peptide hormone secreted by adipose tissue. Studies have shown that leptin crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB) by a saturable transport system where it acts within the hypothalamus to regulate food intake and energy expenditure. Leptin also acts in the hippocampus where it facilitates the induction of long-term potentiation and enhances NMDA receptor-mediated transmission. This suggests that leptin plays a role in learning and memory. Obese mice and rats, which have leptin receptor deficiency, have impaired spatial learning. In disease states such as diabetes, humans and animals develop leptin resistance at the BBB. This suggests that low leptin levels in the brain may be involved in cognitive deficits associated with diabetes. In the current study, the effects of leptin on post-training memory processing in CD-1 mice were examined. Mice were trained in T-maze footshock avoidance and step down inhibitory avoidance. Immediately after training, mice received bilateral injections of leptin into the hippocampus. Retention was tested 1 week later in the T-maze and 1 day later in step down inhibitory avoidance. Leptin administration improved retention of T-maze footshock avoidance and step down inhibitory avoidance. Leptin administered 24 h after T-maze training did not improve retention when tested 1 week after training. SAMP8 mice at 12 months of age have elevated amyloid-beta protein and impaired learning and memory. We examined the effect of leptin on memory processing in the hippocampus of 4 and 12 months old SAMP8 mice. Leptin improved retention in both 4 and 12 months old SAMP8 mice; 12 month SAMP8 mice required a lower dose to improve memory compared to 4 months SAMP8 mice. The current results indicate that leptin in the hippocampus is involved in memory processing and suggests that low levels of leptin may be involved in cognitive deficits seen in disease states where leptin transport into the CNS is compromised.

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