De novo lipogenesis (DNL) plays a role in the development of hepatic steatosis. In humans with lipodystrophy, reduced adipose tissue causes lower plasma leptin, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and ectopic triglyceride (TG) accumulation. We hypothesized that recombinant leptin (metreleptin) for 6 months in 11 patients with lipodystrophy would reduce DNL by decreasing insulin resistance and glycemia, thus reducing circulating and hepatic-TG. The percentage of TG-rich lipoprotein particle (TRLP)-TG derived from DNL (%DNL) was measured by deuterium incorporation from body water into palmitate. At baseline, DNL was elevated with levels similar to levels previously shown in obesity-associated nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). After metreleptin, DNL decreased into the normal range. Similarly, absolute DNL (TRLP-TG x % DNL) decreased by 88% to near-normal levels. Metreleptin improved peripheral insulin sensitivity (hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp) and lowered HbA1c and hepatic-TG. Both before and after metreleptin, DNL positively correlated with insulin resistance, insulin doses, and hepatic-TG, supporting the hypothesis that hyperinsulinemia stimulates DNL and that elevated DNL is integral to the pathogenesis of lipodystrophy-associated NAFLD.These data suggest that leptin-mediated improvement in insulin sensitivity increases clearance of blood glucose by peripheral tissues, reduces hepatic carbohydrate flux, and lowers insulinemia, resulting in DNL reductions, and improvements in hepatic steatosis and dyslipidemia.


Annah P. Baykal, Elizabeth J. Parks, Robert Shamburek, Majid M. Syed-Abdul, Shaji K. Chacko, Elaine Cochran, Megan Startzell, Ahmed M. Gharib, Ronald Ouwerkerk, Khaled Z. Abd-Elmoniem, Peter J. Walter, Mary Walter, Ranganath Muniyappa, Stephanie T. Chung, Rebecca J. Brown


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