Leptin and its role in hippocampal synaptic plasticity

Jenni Harvey, Natasha Solovyova, Andrew Irving

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    173 Citations (Scopus)


    It is well documented that the hormone leptin plays a pivotal role in regulating food intake and body weight via its hypothalamic actions. However, leptin receptors are expressed throughout the brain with high levels found in the hippocampus. Evidence is accumulating that leptin has widespread actions on CNS function and in particular learning and memory. Recent studies have demonstrated that leptin-deficient or-insensitive rodents have impairments in hippocampal synaptic plasticity and in spatial memory tasks performed in the Morris water maze. Moreover, direct administration of leptin into the brain facilitates hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP), and improves memory performance in mice. There is also evidence that, at the cellular level, leptin has the capacity to convert hippocampal short-term potentiation (STP) into LTP, via enhancing NMDA receptor function. Recent data indicates that leptin can also induce a novel form of NMDA receptor-dependent hippocampal long-term depression. Here, we review the evidence implicating a key role for the hormone leptin in modulating hippocampal synaptic plasticity and discuss the role of lipid signaling cascades in this process.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)369-378
    Number of pages10
    JournalProgress in Lipid Research
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006


    • Hippocampus
    • Leptin
    • Long-term depression
    • Long-term potentiation
    • NMDA receptor
    • PI 3-kinase

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Biochemistry
    • Cell Biology


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