Changes in insulin sensitivity during leptin replacement therapy in leptin-deficient patients

Gilberto Paz-Filho, Karin Esposito, Barry Hurwitz, Anil Sharma, Chuanhui Dong, Victor Andreev, Tuncay Delibasi, Halil Erol, Alejandro Ayala, Ma Li Wong, Julio Licinio

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41 Citations (Scopus)


Leptin replacement rescues the phenotype of morbid obesity and hypogonadism in leptin-deficient adults. However, leptin's effects on insulin resistance are not well understood. Our objective was to evaluate the effects of leptin on insulin resistance. Three leptin-deficient adults (male, 32 yr old, BMI 23.5 kg/m2; female, 42 yr old, BMI 25.1 kg/m2; female, 46 yr old, BMI 31.7 kg/m2) with a missense mutation of the leptin gene were evaluated during treatment with recombinant methionyl human leptin (r-metHuLeptin). Insulin resistance was determined by euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamps and by oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTTs), whereas patients were on r-metHuLeptin and after treatment was interrupted for 2-4 wk in the 4th, 5th, and 6th years of treatment. At baseline, all patients had normal insulin levels, C-peptide, and homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance index, except for one female diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The glucose infusion rate was significantly lower with r-metHuLeptin (12.03 ± 3.27 vs. 8.16 ± 2.77 mg·kg-1·min-1, P = 0.0016) but did not differ in the 4th, 5th, and 6th years of treatment when all results were analyzed by a mixed model [F(1,4) = 0.57 and P = 0.5951]. The female patient with type 2 diabetes became euglycemic after treatment with r-metHuLeptin and subsequent weight loss. The OGTT suggested that two patients showed decreased insulin resistance while off treatment. During an off-leptin OGTT, one of the patients developed a moderate hypoglycemic reaction attributed to increased posthepatic insulin delivery and sensitivity. We conclude that, in leptin-deficient adults, the interruption of r-metHuLeptin decreases insulin resistance in the context of rapid weight gain. Our results suggest that hyperleptinemia may contribute to mediate the increased insulin resistance of obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1401-E1408
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Dec 2008


  • Euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp
  • Homeostatic model assessment
  • Recombinant methionyl human leptin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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