Weight Control Hormone Shows Promise as Antidepressant
> 1/20/2006 10:10:46 AM

Leptin, a protein hormone secreted by fatty tissue cells, hasbeen understood by doctors and researchers since its discovery in 1994as a key ingredient in regulating fat stores and thereby hunger andobesity.  Studies, like this one from the Journal of the American Medical Association, have shown the part that leptin can play in combating obesity.

Now, however, researchers have discovered that leptin may have another use--fighting depression.  An article on Forbes.com yesterday describes research published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Leptinappears to be like other hormones that play more than one role in thebrain, said Richard Simerly, director of the Neuroscience Program atthe Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "Theyalter the way brain circuits function, and they do this not in just theareas that you'd expect."

The research centered on tests performed on rats to see how leptin effected their moods in different situations.

Inone test, the researchers stressed the mice in a way designed to createeffects similar to human stress. The researchers exposed the mice toelectric shocks, water immersion, restraints, solitary confinement andovercrowding. The leptin levels in the mice dropped, suggesting it hassome connection to stress.

Inanother test, also designed to cause stress, the researchers forced themice to swim long distances, a grueling task that can induce a kind ofhopelessness similar to depression in humans. The mice given leptinwere less likely to give up and fall into "despair."

Researchersstopped short of saying that leptin could help treat depression, butthe results of these tests show that the hormone has a great deal ofpromise.  Further research will be necessary to determine if theconnections between stress, mood and leptin levels can be exploited totreat depressive disorders.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy