A link between obesity and memory?

Jun 14, 2006

Scientists have wondered why obese patients who have diabetes also may have problems with their long-term memory. New Saint Louis University research in this month's Peptides provides a clue.

"Leptin is a hormone secreted by fat cells that tells us to stop eating. In obese people, it doesn't cross into the brain to help regulate appetite," says Susan A. Farr, Ph.D., principal investigator and associate research professor in the division of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

"We've now found leptin affects the brain in other ways, compromising learning and memory. Low levels of leptin also could be related to cognitive deficits in disorders like type two diabetes."

Farr and her research team tested the role of leptin in learning and memory using an animal model. They found that mice navigated a maze better after they received leptin.

"We found that this drug affected the processes going into the brain," says Farr, who also is a researcher at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Louis. "The mice that got the drug at the appropriate dose had improved learning and long-term memory."

Mice with elevated levels of amyloid-beta protein, the brain plaques believed to cause Alzheimer's disease, and impaired learning and memory were "super sensitive" to leptin, Farr adds.

"In the older mice that have Alzheimer's disease, leptin worked even better and at a lower dose than it did in younger mice."

Source: Saint Louis University

Explore further: Pack a travel first-aid kit for the holidays

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Low levels of brain chemical may lead to obesity

Aug 27, 2008

A brain chemical that plays a role in long term memory also appears to be involved in regulating how much people eat and their likelihood of becoming obese, according to a National Institutes of Health study of a rare genetic ...

Recommended for you

Pregnant woman taken off life support in Ireland

Dec 26, 2014

A brain-dead pregnant woman was taken off life support Friday after a court ruled that her 18-week-old fetus was doomed to die—a case that exposed fear and confusion among doctors over how to apply Ireland's ...

Ebola expert calls for European anti-virus 'corps'

Dec 26, 2014

Europe will be "vulnerable" if it does not regard viruses as a "national security issue" like the United States, the microbiologist who discovered Ebola said in an interview published Friday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.