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Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 708154, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2011/708154
Review Article

Obesity and the Ageing Brain: Could Leptin Play a Role in Neurodegeneration?

School of Biology, University of Street Andrews, Bute Building, West burn Lane, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9TS, UK

Received 30 May 2011; Accepted 15 August 2011

Academic Editor: Eric Le Bourg

Copyright © 2011 G. H. Doherty. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Obesity and ageing are both characteristics of the human population that are on the increase across the globe. It has long been established that ageing is the major risk factor for neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, and it is becoming increasingly evident that obesity is another such factor. Leptin resistance or insensitivity has been uncovered as a cause of obesity, and in addition the leptin signalling system is less potent in the elderly. Taken together, these findings reveal that this molecule may be a link between neurodegeneration and obesity or ageing. It is now known that leptin has beneficial effects on both the survival and neurophysiology of the neurons that are lost in Alzheimer's disease suggesting that it may be an important research target in the quest for strategies to prevent, halt, or cure this condition.