Fat Hormone Leptin Alters Brain Architecture And Activity, Which In Turn Drives Feeding Behavior

Scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and The Rockefeller University in collaboration with investigators at Yale University have found that leptin --- a hormone found in fat tissue and critical to regulating weight -- affects both the architecture and function of neural circuits in the brain. The research is published April 2 in Science. Studies were conducted by Shirly Pinto, Ph.D., and her colleagues Aaron Roseberry, Ph.D., and Hongyan Liu, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellows in the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics headed by Jeffrey Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., at Rockefeller, in conjunction with Tamas Horvath, D.V.M., Ph.D. and his colleagues at Yale University. The Rockefeller scientists discovered that leptin acts by changing the wiring of the brain, a phenomenon known as plasticity. The hormone alters the wiring by controlling synapses -- the inputs and outputs to neurons that, in this case, regulate feeding behavior.

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