New treatment may help individuals with partial lipodystrophy control type 2 diabetes

Although it is rare, a few thousand people from around the world have a condition called partial lipodystrophy, which can cause a series of metabolic disorders, including severe type 2 diabetes, high triglyceride levels and excess fat buildup in the liver - clinically known as hepatic steatosis.

While diabetes medications and triglyceride-lowering drugs are often used to treat metabolic symptoms in these individuals, there is no cure for the underlying disease.

However, a recent study presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society showed that treatment with metreleptin - an analog of the human hormone leptin - improved type 2 diabetes management and lipid control in patients with partial lipodystrophy.

The researchers explained that lipodystrophy syndromes are brought on by abnormalities in adipose tissue distribution throughout the body. Individuals who have the condition do not have enough fat tissue because they lack adequate amounts of leptin - a hormone that helps regulate metabolism.

Typically, people begin to experience symptoms of lipodystrophy in adolescence, the investigators said. Severe insulin resistance and steatosis associated with the disorder may increase an individual's risk of developing acute pancreatitis, accelerated atherosclerosis and nerve damage, along with other serious medical problems.

The research involved patients with partial lipodystrophy who were treated with metreleptin for six months.

At the onset of the investigation, a total of 89 percent of the participants did not have sufficient glycemic control and an equal percentage had elevated triglyceride levels.

The study's results showed that metreleptin treatment reduced hemoglobin A1c scores - a long-term measure of blood glucose levels - by an average of 1.3 points over the course of the experiment. Moreover, patients who had type 2 diabetes due to partial lipodystrophy were able to decrease their daily doses of insulin by a mean of 110 units.

Additionally, the findings indicated that triglyceride concentrations were reduced by 49 mg/dl, on average.

The researchers noted that they were optimistic about the potential advantages of using metreleptin as a treatment for lipodystrophy in people with type 2 diabetes since they showed that the benefits of this course of therapy were sustainable over the course of 15 months.