Forebrain glutamatergic neurons mediate leptin action on depression-like behaviors and synaptic depression

M. Guo, Y. Lu, J. C. Garza, Y. Li, S. C. Chua, W. Zhang, B. Lu, X. Y. Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The glutamatergic system has been implicated in the pathophysiology of depression and the mechanism of action of antidepressants. Leptin, an adipocyte-derived hormone, has antidepressant-like properties. However, the functional role of leptin receptor (Lepr) signaling in glutamatergic neurons remains to be elucidated. In this study, we generated conditional knockout mice in which the long form of Lepr was ablated selectively in glutamatergic neurons located in the forebrain structures, including the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (Lepr cKO). Lepr cKO mice exhibit normal growth and body weight. Behavioral characterization of Lepr cKO mice reveals depression-like behavioral deficits, including anhedonia, behavioral despair, enhanced learned helplessness and social withdrawal, with no evident signs of anxiety. In addition, loss of Lepr in forebrain glutamatergic neurons facilitates N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-induced hippocampal long-term synaptic depression (LTD), whereas conventional LTD or long-term potentiation (LTP) was not affected. The facilitated LTD induction requires activation of the NMDA receptor GluN2B (NR2B) subunit as it was completely blocked by a selective GluN2B antagonist. Moreover, Lepr cKO mice are highly sensitive to the antidepressant-like behavioral effects of the GluN2B antagonist but resistant to leptin. These results support important roles for Lepr signaling in glutamatergic neurons in regulating depression-related behaviors and modulating excitatory synaptic strength, suggesting a possible association between synaptic depression and behavioral manifestation of behavioral depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere83
JournalTranslational psychiatry
StatePublished - 2012


  • Behavioral depression
  • GluN2B subunit
  • Glutamatergic neurons
  • Leptin receptor
  • NMDA receptors
  • Synaptic depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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