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J Clin Invest. 2012 Nov;122(11):3900-13. doi: 10.1172/JCI64102. Epub 2012 Oct 15.

Leptin regulates glutamate and glucose transporters in hypothalamic astrocytes.

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Hospital Infantil Universitario Niño Jesús, Department of Endocrinology, Instituto de Investigación La Princesa, Madrid, Spain.


Glial cells perform critical functions that alter the metabolism and activity of neurons, and there is increasing interest in their role in appetite and energy balance. Leptin, a key regulator of appetite and metabolism, has previously been reported to influence glial structural proteins and morphology. Here, we demonstrate that metabolic status and leptin also modify astrocyte-specific glutamate and glucose transporters, indicating that metabolic signals influence synaptic efficacy and glucose uptake and, ultimately, neuronal function. We found that basal and glucose-stimulated electrical activity of hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons in mice were altered in the offspring of mothers fed a high-fat diet. In adulthood, increased body weight and fasting also altered the expression of glucose and glutamate transporters. These results demonstrate that whole-organism metabolism alters hypothalamic glial cell activity and suggest that these cells play an important role in the pathology of obesity.

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