Leptin is a protein produced by fat cells and is nearly absent in patients with generalized lipodystrophies disorders which result in extreme loss of body fat. Generalized lipodystrophies are associated with metabolic abnormalities such as diabetes, high blood cholesterol and an accumulation of fat in the liver. Current treatment consists of high-dose insulin plus triglyceride- or lipid-lowering medications.
Results of the study, published in todays issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, indicated that leptin replacement therapy not only controlled severe insulin resistance and lowered triglyceride levels but also decreased fat accumulation in the liver, an abnormality for which there has been no effective therapy.
Dr. Abhimanyu Garg, professor of internal medicine and chief of nutrition and metabolic diseases at UT Southwestern, and Dr. Elif Arioglu Oral of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestion and Kidney Diseases were the principal investigators at the two sites.
Its very frustrating to treat patients with generalized lipodystrophies, said Garg, who has been studying patients with lipodystrophies referred from all over the world for the past 16 years. Diabetes is so severe and very difficult to manage. Extremely high blood fat levels can cause recurrent abdominal pain due to pancreatic inflammation.
We have shown that leptin replacement therapy is an effective treatment for patients with lipodystrophies, said Garg, senior author of the study.
Nine females participated in the 17-week study. Eight of the participants were diabetic and all nine participants had high triglycerides levels ranging
Contact: Amy Shields
UT Southwestern Medical Center