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Neuroscience. 2006;138(4):1137-48. Epub 2006 Jan 18.

Leptin enhances NR2B-mediated N-methyl-D-aspartate responses via a mitogen-activated protein kinase-dependent process in cerebellar granule cells.

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Neurosciences Institute, Division of Pathology and Neuroscience, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 9SY, UK.


It is well documented that the hormone leptin regulates energy balance via its actions in the hypothalamus. However, evidence is accumulating that leptin plays a key role in numerous CNS functions. Indeed, leptin receptors are expressed in many extrahypothalamic brain regions, with high levels found in the hippocampus and cerebellum. In the hippocampus leptin has been shown to facilitate N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor function and modulate synaptic plasticity. A role for leptin in cerebellar function is also indicated as leptin-deficient rodents display reduced mobility that is unrelated to obesity. Here we show that leptin receptor immunolabeling can be detected in cultured cerebellar granule cells, being expressed at the somatic plasma membrane and also concentrated at synapses. Furthermore, leptin facilitated NR2B N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor-mediated Ca2+ influx in cerebellar granule cells via a mitogen-activated protein kinase-dependent pathway. These findings provide the first direct evidence for a cellular action of leptin in cerebellar neurons. In addition, given that N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor activity in the cerebellum is crucial for normal locomotor function, these data also have important implications for the potential role of leptin in the control of movement.

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