Leptin-based hexamers facilitate memory and prevent amyloid-driven AMPA receptor internalisation and neuronal degeneration

Gayle Doherty (Lead / Corresponding author), Alison Holiday, Yasaman Malekizadeh, Cosmin Manolescu, Stephen Duncan, Iona Flewitt, Kirsty Hamilton, Beth MacLeod, James A. Ainge (Lead / Corresponding author), Jenni Harvey (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Key pathological features of Alzheimer's disease (AD) include build-up of amyloid β (Aβ), which promotes synaptic abnormalities and ultimately leads to neuronal cell death. Metabolic dysfunction is known to influence the risk of developing AD. Impairments in the leptin system have been detected in AD patients, which has fuelled interest in targeting this system to treat AD. Increasing evidence supports pro-cognitive and neuroprotective actions of leptin and these beneficial effects of leptin are mirrored by a bioactive leptin fragment (leptin 116–130). Here we extend these studies to examine the potential cognitive enhancing and neuroprotective actions of 8 six-amino acid peptides (hexamers) derived from leptin 116–130. In this study, we show that four of the hexamers (leptin 116–121, 117–122, 118–123 and 120–125) replicate the ability of leptin to promote α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptor trafficking and facilitate hippocampal synaptic plasticity. Moreover, the pro-cognitive effects of the hexamers were verified in behavioural studies, with the administration of leptin 117–122 enhancing performance in episodic memory tasks. The bioactive hexamers replicated the neuroprotective actions of leptin by preventing the acute hippocampal synapto-toxic effects of Aβ, and the chronic effects of Aβ on neuronal cell viability, Aβ seeding and tau phosphorylation. These findings provide further evidence to support leptin and leptin-derived peptides as potential therapeutics for AD. (Figure presented.)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-826
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number6
Early online date29 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • amyloid
  • hippocampus
  • leptin
  • memory
  • synaptic plasticity
  • tau


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