Leptin action on nonneuronal cells in the CNS: potential clinical applications

Leptin, an adipocyte-derived cytokine, crosses the blood–brain barrier to act on many regions of the central nervous system (CNS). It participates in the regulation of energy balance, inflammatory processes, immune regulation, synaptic formation, memory condensation, and neurotrophic activities. This review focuses on the newly identified actions of leptin on astrocytes.Authors first summarize the distribution of leptin receptors in the brain, with a focus on the hypothalamus, where the leptin receptor is known to mediate essential feeding suppression activities, and on the hippocampus, where leptin facilitates memory, reduces neurodegeneration, and plays a dual role in seizures. Researchers will then discuss regulation of the nonneuronal leptin system in obesity. Its relationship with neuronal leptin signaling is illustrated by in vitro assays in primary astrocyte culture and by in vivo studies on mice after pretreatment with a glial metabolic inhibitor or after cell-specific deletion of intracellular signaling leptin receptors. Overall, the glial leptin system shows robust regulation and plays an essential role in obesity. Strategies to manipulate this nonneuronal leptin signaling may have major clinical impact.

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