Leptin-mediated cell survival signaling in hippocampal neurons mediated by JAK STAT3 and mitochondrial stabilization

Zhihong Guo, Haiyang Jiang, Xiangru Xu, Wenzhen Duan, Mark P. Mattson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


Leptin plays a pivotal role in the regulation of energy homeostasis and metabolism, primarily by acting on neurons in the hypothalamus that control food intake. However, leptin receptors are more widely expressed in the brain suggesting additional, as yet unknown, functions of leptin. Here we show that both embryonic and adult hippocampal neurons express leptin receptors coupled to activation of STAT3 and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-Akt signaling pathways. Leptin protects hippocampal neurons against cell death induced by neurotrophic factor withdrawal and excitotoxic and oxidative insults. The neuroprotective effect of leptin is antagonized by the JAK2-STAT3 inhibitor AG-490, STAT3 decoy DNA, and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt inhibitors but not by an inhibitor of MAPK. Leptin induces the production of manganese superoxide dismutase and the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-xL, and stabilizes mitochondrial membrane potential and lessens mitochondrial oxidative stress. Leptin receptor-deficient mice (db/db mice) are more vulnerable to seizure-induced hippocampal damage, and intraventricular administration of leptin protects neurons against seizures. By enhancing mitochondrial resistance to apoptosis and excitotoxicity, our findings suggest that leptin signaling serves a neurotrophic function in the developing and adult hippocampus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1754-1763
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 18 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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