In the 10 years since the discovery of the hormone leptin and its appetite-suppressing activity in mice, the hormone has provided a good deal of insight into how a metabolic signal can affect the central nervous system. In the April 2 Science, two papers report that leptin regulates synaptic plasticity and neuronal development.

Both teams used leptin-deficient mice (ob/ob) and investigated the effect of leptin on two distinct populations of neurons in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus—one producing the appetite-stimulating neuropeptide Y (NPY) and the other producing appetite-suppressing proopiomelanocortin (POMC).

“These findings are important for the study of leptin and its potential therapeutic value in the treatment of obesity and related disorders like diabetes,” said Jenni Harvey, Wellcome Trust Research Fellow from University of Dundee, who was not involved in the studies.

“We were working on the POMC and NPY system,” said Tamas Horvath, associate professor...

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