Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Mol Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;17(8):790-808. doi: 10.1038/mp.2011.161. Epub 2011 Dec 20.

Leptin restores adult hippocampal neurogenesis in a chronic unpredictable stress model of depression and reverses glucocorticoid-induced inhibition of GSK-3β/β-catenin signaling.

Author information

Department of Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.


Stress and glucocorticoid stress hormones inhibit neurogenesis, whereas antidepressants increase neurogenesis and block stress-induced decrease in neurogenesis. Our previous studies have shown that leptin, an adipocyte-derived hormone with antidepressant-like properties, promotes baseline neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus. This study aimed to determine whether leptin is able to restore suppression of neurogenesis in a rat chronic unpredictable stress (CUS) model of depression. Chronic treatment with leptin reversed the CUS-induced reduction of hippocampal neurogenesis and depression-like behaviors. Leptin treatment elicited a delayed long-lasting antidepressant-like effect in the forced swim behavioral despair test, and this effect was blocked by ablation of neurogenesis with X-irradiation. The functional isoform of the leptin receptor, LepRb, and the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) were colocalized in hippocampal neural stem/progenitor cells in vivo and in vitro. Leptin treatment reversed the GR agonist dexamethasone (DEX)-induced reduction of proliferation of cultured neural stem/progenitor cells from adult hippocampus. Further mechanistic analysis revealed that leptin and DEX converged on glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) and β-catenin. While DEX decreased Ser9 phosphorylation and increased Tyr216 phosphorylation of GSK-3β, leptin increased Ser9 phosphorylation and attenuated the effects of DEX at both Ser9 and Tyr216 phosphorylation sites of GSK-3β. Moreover, leptin increased total level and nuclear translocation of β-catenin, a primary substrate of GSK-3β and a key regulator in controlling hippocampal neural progenitor cell proliferation, and reversed the inhibitory effects of DEX on β-catenin. Taken together, our results suggest that adult neurogenesis is involved in the delayed long-lasting antidepressant-like behavioral effects of leptin, and leptin treatment counteracts chronic stress and glucocorticoid-induced suppression of hippocampal neurogenesis via activating the GSK-3β/β-catenin signaling pathway.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Publication type, MeSH terms, Substances, Grant support

Publication type

MeSH terms


Grant support

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center