Brain may play an important role in the benefits of leptin

Studies have suggested that the hormone leptin may help alleviate many of the metabolic symptoms of type 1 diabetes. However, little was known about how the hormone delivers the benefits.

Recently, a team of researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center found that leptin acts in the brain, resulting in many of the hormone's benefits. The findings, which were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could pave the way for future treatments that eliminate many of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes.

For the study, researchers gave mice leptin injections in their brains. The treatment was able to help terminally ill mice who were suffering from the effects of diabetes make full recoveries. The findings appear to indicate that the brain is an important mediator of the benefits of leptin.

"Our findings really pave the way for understanding the mechanism by which leptin therapy improves type 1 diabetes," said Roberto Coppari, who led the study. "Understanding the mechanism is important, because if we can determine how leptin drives these benefits, then we may be able to develop drugs that eliminate the need for insulin."