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Open access

Carolina Chaves, Teresa Kay, and João Anselmo

Summary

Leptin is secreted by adipocytes in response to fat storage and binds to its receptor (LEPR), which is ubiquitously expressed throughout the body. Leptin regulates energy expenditure and is anorexigenic. In this study, we describe the clinical and hormonal findings of three siblings with a personal history of rapid weight gain during the first months of life. They had delayed puberty, high levels of FSH (15.6 ± 3.7 mUI/mL; reference: 1.5–12.4) and LH (12.3 ± 2.2 mUI/mL; reference: 1.7–8.6), normal oestradiol and total testosterone and successful fertility. None of the patients had dyslipidemia, diabetes or thyroid disease. Next-generation sequencing identified a pathogenic homozygous variant c.2357T>C, p.(Leu786Pro) in LEPR. Their parents and children were heterozygous for this mutation. We compared clinical and biochemical findings of homozygous carriers with first-degree heterozygous family members and ten randomly selected patients with adult-onset morbid obesity. Homozygous carriers of the mutation had significantly higher BMI (32.2 ± 1.7 kg/m2 vs 44.5 ± 7.1 kg/m2, P = 0.023) and increased serum levels of leptin (26.3 ± 9.3 ng/mL vs 80 ± 36.4 ng/mL, P = 0.028) than their heterozygous relatives. Compared with the ten patients with adult-onset morbid obesity, serum levels of leptin were not significantly higher in homozygous carriers (53.8 ± 24.1 ng/mL vs 80 ± 36.4 ng/mL, P = 0.149), and thus serum levels of leptin were not a useful discriminative marker of LEPR mutations. We described a rare three-generation family with monogenic obesity due to a mutation in LEPR. Patients with early onset obesity should be considered for genetic screening, as the identification of mutations may allow personalized treatment options (e.g. MC4R-agonists) and targeted successful weight loss.

Learning points

  • The early diagnosis of monogenic forms of obesity can be of great interest since new treatments for these conditions are becoming available.

  • Since BMI and leptin levels in patients with leptin receptor mutations are not significantly different from those found in randomly selected morbid obese patients, a careful medical history is mandatory to suspect this condition.

  • Loss of leptin receptor function has been associated with infertility. However, our patients were able to conceive, emphasizing the need for genetic counselling in affected patients with this condition.

Open access

Ana Dugic, Michael Kryk, Claudia Mellenthin, Christoph Braig, Lorenzo Catanese, Sandy Petermann, Jürgen Kothmann, and Steffen Mühldorfer

Summary

Drinking fruit juice is an increasingly popular health trend, as it is widely perceived as a source of vitamins and nutrients. However, high fructose load in fruit beverages can have harmful metabolic effects. When consumed in high amounts, fructose is linked with hypertriglyceridemia, fatty liver and insulin resistance. We present an unusual case of a patient with severe asymptomatic hypertriglyceridemia (triglycerides of 9182 mg/dL) and newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus, who reported a daily intake of 15 L of fruit juice over several weeks before presentation. The patient was referred to our emergency department with blood glucose of 527 mg/dL and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) of 17.3%. Interestingly, features of diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state were absent. The patient was overweight with an otherwise unremarkable physical exam. Lipase levels, liver function tests and inflammatory markers were closely monitored and remained unremarkable. The initial therapeutic approach included i.v. volume resuscitation, insulin and heparin. Additionally, plasmapheresis was performed to prevent potentially fatal complications of hypertriglyceridemia. The patient was counseled on balanced nutrition and detrimental effects of fruit beverages. He was discharged home 6 days after admission. At a 2-week follow-up visit, his triglyceride level was 419 mg/dL, total cholesterol was 221 mg/dL and HbA1c was 12.7%. The present case highlights the role of fructose overconsumption as a contributory factor for severe hypertriglyceridemia in a patient with newly diagnosed diabetes. We discuss metabolic effects of uncontrolled fructose ingestion, as well as the interplay of primary and secondary factors, in the pathogenesis of hypertriglyceridemia accompanied by diabetes.

Learning points

  • Excessive dietary fructose intake can exacerbate hypertriglyceridemia in patients with underlying type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and absence of diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state.

  • When consumed in large amounts, fructose is considered a highly lipogenic nutrient linked with postprandial hypertriglyceridemia and de novo hepatic lipogenesis (DNL).

  • Severe lipemia (triglyceride plasma level > 9000 mg/dL) could be asymptomatic and not necessarily complicated by acute pancreatitis, although lipase levels should be closely monitored.

  • Plasmapheresis is an effective adjunct treatment option for rapid lowering of high serum lipids, which is paramount to prevent acute complications of severe hypertriglyceridemia.

Open access

Fiona Melzer, Corinna Geisler, Dominik M Schulte, and Matthias Laudes

Summary

Familial partial lipodystrophy (FPLD) syndromes are rare heterogeneous disorders especially in women characterized by selective loss of adipose tissue, reduced leptin levels and severe metabolic abnormalities. Here we report a 34-year-old female with a novel heterozygotic c.485 thymine>guanine (T>G) missense variant (p.phenylalanine162cysteine; (Phe162Cys)) in exon 4 of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG) gene, developing a non-ketotic diabetes and severe hypertriglyceridemia with triglyceride concentrations >50 mmol/L. In this case, a particular interesting feature in comparison to other known PPARG mutations in FPLD is that while glycaemic control could be achieved through standard anti-diabetic medication, hypertriglyceridemia did neither respond to fibrate nor to omega-3-fatty acid therapy. This might suggest a lipid metabolism driven phenotype of the novel PPARG c.485T>G missense variant. Notably, recombinant leptin replacement therapy (metreleptin (Myalepta®)) was initiated showing a rapid and profound effect on triglyceride levels as well as on liver function tests and satiety feeling. Unfortunately, severe allergic skin reactions developed at the side of injection which could be covered by anti-histaminc treatment. We conclude that the heterozygous PPARG c.485T>G variant is a yet undescribed molecular basis underlying FPLD with difficulties predominantly to control hypertriglyceridemia and that recombinant leptin therapy may be effective in affected subjects.

Learning points

  • Heterozygous c.485T>G variant in PPARG is most likely a cause for FPLD in humans.

  • This variant results in a special metabolic phenotype with a predominant dysregulation of triglyceride metabolism not responding to standard lipid lowering therapy.

  • Recombinant leptin therapy is effective in rapidly improving hypertriglyceridemia.

Open access

Ulla Kampmann, Per Glud Ovesen, Niels Møller, and Jens Fuglsang

Summary

During pregnancy, maternal tissues become increasingly insensitive to insulin in order to liberate nutritional supply to the growing fetus, but occasionally insulin resistance in pregnancy becomes severe and the treatment challenging. We report a rare and clinically difficult case of extreme insulin resistance with daily insulin requirements of 1420 IU/day during pregnancy in an obese 36-year-old woman with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The woman was referred to the outpatient clinic at gestational week 12 + 2 with a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) at 59 mmol/mol. Insulin treatment was initiated immediately using Novomix 30, and the doses were progressively increased, peaking at 1420 units/day at week 34 + 4. At week 35 + 0, there was an abrupt fall in insulin requirements, but with no signs of placental insufficiency. At week 36 + 1 a, healthy baby with no hypoglycemia was delivered by cesarean section. Blood samples were taken late in pregnancy to search for causes of extreme insulin resistance and showed high levels of C-peptide, proinsulin, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), mannan-binding-lectin (MBL) and leptin. CRP was mildly elevated, but otherwise, levels of inflammatory markers were normal. Insulin antibodies were undetectable, and no mutations in the insulin receptor (INSR) gene were found. The explanation for the severe insulin resistance, in this case, can be ascribed to PCOS, obesity, profound weight gain, hyperleptinemia and inactivity. This is the first case of extreme insulin resistance during pregnancy, with insulin requirements close to 1500 IU/day with a successful outcome, illustrating the importance of a close interdisciplinary collaboration between patient, obstetricians and endocrinologists.

Learning points

  • This is the first case of extreme insulin resistance during pregnancy, with insulin requirements of up to 1420 IU/day with a successful outcome without significant fetal macrosomia and hypoglycemia.

  • Obesity, PCOS, T2D and high levels of leptin and IGF-1 are predictors of severe insulin resistance in pregnancy.

  • A close collaboration between patient, obstetricians and endocrinologists is crucial for tailoring the best possible treatment for pregnant women with diabetes, beneficial for both the mother and her child.

Open access

Marina Yukina, Nurana Nuralieva, Ekaterina Sorkina, Ekaterina Troshina, Anatoly Tiulpakov, Zhanna Belaya, and Galina Melnichenko

Summary

Lamin A/C (LMNA) gene mutations cause a heterogeneous group of progeroid disorders, including Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome, mandibuloacral dysplasia, atypical progeroid syndrome (APS) and generalized lipodystrophy-associated progeroid syndrome (GLPS). All of those syndromes are associated with some progeroid features, lipodystrophy and metabolic complications but vary differently depending on a particular mutation and even patients carrying the same gene variant are known to have clinical heterogeneity. We report a new 30-year-old female patient from Russia with an APS and generalized lipodystrophy (GL) due to the heterozygous de novo LMNA p.E262K mutation and compare her clinical and metabolic features to those of other described patients with APS. Despite many health issues, short stature, skeletal problems, GL and late diagnosis of APS, our patient seems to be relatively metabolically healthy for her age when compared to previously described patients with APS.

Learning points

  • Atypical progeroid syndromes (APS) are rare and heterogenic with different age of onset and degree of metabolic disorders, which makes this diagnosis very challenging for clinicians and may be missed until the adulthood.

  • The clinical picture of the APS depends on a particular mutation in the LMNA gene, but may vary even between the patients with the same mutation.

  • The APS due to a heterozygous LMNA p.E262K mutation, which we report in this patient, seems to have association with the generalized lipodystrophy, short stature and osteoporosis, but otherwise, it seems to cause relatively mild metabolic complications by the age of 30.

  • The patients with APS and lipodystrophy syndromes require a personalized and multidisciplinary approach, and so they should be referred to highly specialized reference-centres for diagnostics and treatment as early as possible.

  • Because of the high heterogeneity of such a rare disease as APS, every patient’s description is noteworthy for a better understanding of this challenging syndrome, including the analysis of genotype-phenotype correlations.

Open access

Carolina Chaves, Mariana Chaves, João Anselmo, and Rui César

Summary

Berardinelli–Seip congenital lipodystrophy (BSCL) is a rare autosomal recessive disease, characterized by the absence of subcutaneous adipose tissue, leptin deficiency and severe metabolic complications, such as insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia. The most common mutation occurs in BCSL2 which encodes seipin, a protein involved in adipogenesis. We report a patient with BSCL who was diagnosed with diabetes at 11 years old. He was started on metformin 1000 mg twice daily, which lowered glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) to less than 7%. Four months later, HbA1c raised above 7.5%, indicating secondary failure to metformin. Therefore, we added the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARG) agonist, pioglitazone. Since then and for the last 5 years his HbA1c has been within the normal range. These findings indicate that pioglitazone should be considered as a valid alternative in the treatment of diabetes in BSCL patients. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first specific report of successful long-term treatment with pioglitazone in a patient with BSCL.

Learning points

  • Berardinelli–Seip congenital lipodystrophy (BSCL) is a recessive genetic disorder associated with severe insulin resistance and early onset diabetes, usually around puberty. Failure of oral antidiabetic medication occurs within the first years of treatment in BSCL patients.

  • When failure to achieve metabolic control with metformin occurs, pioglitazone may be a safe option, lowering insulin resistance and improving both the metabolic control and lipodystrophic phenotype.

  • Herein we show that pioglitazone can be a safe and efficient alternative in the long-term treatment of BSCL patients with diabetes.

Open access

Deeb Daoud Naccache

Summary

Ten years after the successful withdrawal from heroin abuse, a person with diabetes suffered intractable pain and severe muscular emaciation consistent with the syndrome of diabetic neuropathic cachexia. Anti-neuropathic medications failed neither to alleviate suffering and reverse weight loss, nor to stop muscular emaciation. Vigilant evaluation for weight loss aetiologies revealed no responsible aetiology. Prescribing medical cannabis became mandatory, with the intention to alleviate neuropathic pain, regain muscular mass and strengthen legs, enable standing upright and walking normally. Medical cannabis for pain-relief, and the orexigenic properties of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ingredient successfully achieved these goals.

Learning points:

  • Medical cannabis can serve to promptly alleviate severe diabetic neuropathic pain.

  • Past history of heroin abuse was not an absolute contraindication to medical cannabis use.

  • Medical cannabis increased appetite and reversed muscular emaciation.

  • Medical cannabis decreased chronic pain and hence, its catabolic consequences.

Open access

Baris Akinci, Rasimcan Meral, Diana Rus, Rita Hench, Adam H Neidert, Frank DiPaola, Maria Westerhoff, Simeon I Taylor, and Elif A Oral

Summary

A patient with atypical partial lipodystrophy who had a transient initial response to metreleptin experienced acute worsening of her metabolic state when neutralizing antibodies against metreleptin appeared. Because her metabolic status continued to deteriorate, a therapeutic trial with melanocortin-4 receptor agonist setmelanotide, that is believed to function downstream from leptin receptor in the leptin signaling system, was undertaken in an effort to improve her metabolic status for the first time in a patient with lipodystrophy. To achieve this, a compassionate use (investigational new drug application; IND) was initiated (NCT03262610). Glucose control, body fat by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and MRI, and liver fat by proton density fat fraction were monitored. Daily hunger scores were assessed by patient filled questionnaires. Although there was a slight decrease in hunger scales and visceral fat, stimulating melanocortin-4 receptor by setmelanotide did not result in any other metabolic benefit such as improvement of hypertriglyceridemia or diabetes control as desired. Targeting melanocortin-4 receptor to regulate energy metabolism in this setting was not sufficient to obtain a significant metabolic benefit. However, complex features of our case make it difficult to generalize these observations to all cases of lipodystrophy. It is still possible that melanocortin-4 receptor agonistic action may offer some therapeutic benefits in leptin-deficient patients.

Learning points:

  • A patient with atypical lipodystrophy with an initial benefit with metreleptin therapy developed neutralizing antibodies to metreleptin (Nab-leptin), which led to substantial worsening in metabolic control. The neutralizing activity in her serum persisted for longer than 3 years.

  • Whether the worsening in her metabolic state was truly caused by the development of Nab-leptin cannot be fully ascertained, but there was a temporal relationship. The experience noted in our patient at least raises the possibility for concern for substantial metabolic worsening upon emergence and persistence of Nab-leptin. Further studies of cases where Nab-leptin is detected and better assay systems to detect and characterize Nab-leptin are needed.

  • The use of setmelanotide, a selective MC4R agonist targeting specific neurons downstream from the leptin receptor activation, was not effective in restoring metabolic control in this complex patient with presumed diminished leptin action due to Nab-leptin.

  • Although stimulating the MC4R pathway was not sufficient to obtain a significant metabolic benefit in lowering triglycerides and helping with her insulin resistance as was noted with metreleptin earlier, there was a mild reduction in reported food intake and appetite.

  • Complex features of our case make it difficult to generalize our observation to all leptin-deficient patients. It is possible that some leptin-deficient patients (especially those who need primarily control of food intake) may still theoretically benefit from MC4R agonistic action, and further studies in carefully selected patients may help to tease out the differential pathways of metabolic regulation by the complex network of leptin signaling system.

Open access

Peter Novodvorsky, Emma Walkinshaw, Waliur Rahman, Valerie Gordon, Karen Towse, Sarah Mitchell, Dinesh Selvarajah, Priya Madhuvrata, and Alia Munir

Summary

Bariatric surgery is an effective therapy for obesity but is associated with long-term complications such as dumping syndromes and nutritional deficiencies. We report a case of a 26-year-old caucasian female, with history of morbid obesity and gestational diabetes (GDM), who became pregnant 4 months after Roux-en-Y bypass surgery. She developed GDM during subsequent pregnancy, which was initially managed with metformin and insulin. Nocturnal hypoglycaemia causing sleep disturbance and daytime somnolence occured at 19 weeks of pregnancy (19/40). Treatment with rapid-acting carbohydrates precipitated further hypoglycaemia. Laboratory investigations confirmed hypoglycaemia at 2.2 mmol/L with appropriately low insulin and C-peptide, intact HPA axis and negative IgG insulin antibodies. The patient was seen regularly by the bariatric dietetic team but concerns about compliance persisted. A FreeStyle Libre system was used from 21/40 enabling the patient a real-time feedback of changes in interstitial glucose following high or low GI index food intake. The patient declined a trial of acarbose but consented to an intraveneous dextrose infusion overnight resulting in improvement but not complete abolishment of nocturnal hypoglycaemia. Hypoglycaemias subsided at 34/40 and metformin and insulin had to be re-introduced due to high post-prandial blood glucose readings. An emergency C-section was indicated at 35 + 1/40 and a small-for-gestational-age female was delivered. There have been no further episodes of hypoglycaemia following delivery. This case illustrates challenges in the management of pregnancy following bariatric surgery. To our knowledge, this is the first use of FreeStyle Libre in dumping syndrome in pregnancy following bariatric surgery with troublesome nocturnal hypoglycaemia.

Learning points:

  • Bariatric surgery represents the most effective treatment modality in cases of severe obesity. With increasing prevalence of obesity, more people are likely to undergo bariatric procedures, many of which are women of childbearing age.

  • Fertility generally improves after bariatric surgery due to weight reduction, but pregnancy is not recommended for at least 12–24 months after surgery. If pregnancy occurs, there are currently little evidence-based guidelines available on how to manage complications such as dumping syndromes or gestational diabetes (GDM) in women with history of bariatric surgery.

  • Diagnosis of GDM relies on the use of a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). The use of this test in pregnant women is not recommended due to its potential to precipitate dumping syndrome. Capillary glucose monitoring profiles or continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is being currently discussed as alternative testing modalities.

  • As the CGM technology becomes more available, including the recently introduced FreeStyle Libre Flash glucose monitoring system, more pregnant women, including those after bariatric surgery, will have access to this technology. We suggest urgent development of guidelines regarding the use of CGM and flash glucose monitoring tools in these circumstances and in the interim recommend careful consideration of their use on a case-to-case basis.

Open access

Athanasios Fountas, Zoe Giotaki, Evangelia Dounousi, George Liapis, Alexandra Bargiota, Agathocles Tsatsoulis, and Stelios Tigas

Summary

Proteinuric renal disease is prevalent in congenital or acquired forms of generalized lipodystrophy. In contrast, an association between familial partial lipodystrophy (FPLD) and renal disease has been documented in very few cases. A 22-year-old female patient presented with impaired glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, hirsutism and oligomenorrhea. On examination, there was partial loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue in the face, upper and lower limbs, bird-like facies with micrognathia and low set ears and mild acanthosis nigricans. Laboratory investigations revealed hyperandrogenism, hyperlipidemia, elevated serum creatine kinase and mild proteinuria. A clinical diagnosis of FPLD of the non-Dunnigan variety was made; genetic testing revealed a heterozygous c.1045C > T mutation in exon 6 of the LMNA gene, predicted to result in an abnormal LMNA protein (p.R349W). Electromyography and muscle biopsy were suggestive of non-specific myopathy. Treatment with metformin and later with pioglitazone was initiated. Due to worsening proteinuria, a renal biopsy was performed; histological findings were consistent with mild focal glomerular mesangioproliferative changes, and the patient was started on angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor therapy. This is the fourth report of FPLD associated with the c.1045C > T missense LMNA mutation and the second with co-existent proteinuric renal disease. Patients carrying this specific mutation may exhibit a phenotype that includes partial lipodystrophy, proteinuric nephropathy, cardiomyopathy and atypical myopathy.

Learning points:

  • Lipodystrophy is a rare disorder characterized by the complete or partial loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue, insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus and hyperlipidemia.

  • Proteinuric renal disease is a prevalent feature of generalized lipodystrophy but rare in familial partial lipodystrophy.

  • Patients carrying the c.1045C > T missense LMNA mutation (p.R349W) may present with familial partial lipodystrophy, proteinuric nephropathy, cardiomyopathy and atypical myopathy.