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Leptin Has Neuroprotective Effect and Could Treat Stroke

Hormone reduces infarct size in dose-dependent fashion in animal model of stroke

FRIDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- The adipose hormone leptin has a neuroprotective effect and may be a worthwhile candidate for the treatment of ischemic stroke, according to the results of an animal study published in the August issue of Stroke.

Jun Chen, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues induced ischemic injury in rat primary neuronal cells in culture by means of 90-minute oxygen-glucose deprivation, and in mice using 60-minute cerebral artery occlusion.

The investigators found that leptin receptors were present in cultured rat cortical neurons and also in the mouse cortex, striatum and hippocampus. In vitro experiments showed that 50 to 100 μg/mL of leptin had a concentration-dependent protective effect against the death of primary cortical neurons. In vivo studies in mice showed that intraperitoneal administration of 2 to 8 mg/kg of leptin had a dose-dependent effect of reducing infarct volume.

"Leptin itself is an endogenous natural protein and may thus be safe for the treatment of human diseases," the authors write, noting that the hormone has already been used to treat leptin-deficient morbidly obese patients. The effect of reducing experimental ischemic injury in mice suggests that "leptin may be useful in treating ischemic incidents in humans," they conclude.

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