Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Leptin Therapy Helps Patients with Rare Disorder

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Leptin Therapy Helps Patients with Rare Disorder

Article excerpt

Leptin replacement therapy drastically reduces triglyceride levels and controls diabetes in patients with rare fat disorders known as lipodystrophies, according to researchers at the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Leptin, a protein produced by fat cells, is nearly absent in patients with generalized lipodystrophies--disorders that 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 treatments consist of high-dose insulin plus triglyceride or livid-lowering medications.

The study results, published in The New England Journal of Medicine (February 20, 2002), indicate that leptin replacement therapy not only controlled severe insulin resistance and lowered triglyceride levels but also decreased hepatic fat, an abnormality for which there has been no effective therapy.

Dr. Abhimanyu Garg and Dr. Elif Arioglu Oral were the principal investigators.

"It's very frustrating to treat patients with generalized lipodystrophies," said Dr. Garg, who has been studying patients with lipodystrophies referred from all over the world. "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," he said. …

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