BACKGROUND. Recombinant leptin (metreleptin) ameliorates hyperphagia and metabolic abnormalities in leptin-deficient humans with lipodystrophy. We aimed to determine whether metreleptin improves glucose and lipid metabolism in humans when food intake is held constant. METHODS. Patients with lipodystrophy were hospitalized for 19 days with food intake held constant by controlled diet in an inpatient metabolic ward. In a non-randomized cross-over design, previously metreleptin-treated patients (n = 8) were continued on-metreleptin for five days, and off-metreleptin for the next 14 days (withdrawal cohort). This order was reversed in metreleptin-naïve patients (n = 14), who were restudied after six months of metreleptin treatment on an ad libitum diet (initiation cohort). Outcomes included insulin sensitivity by hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp, fasting glucose and triglycerides, lipolysis measured using isotopic tracers, and liver fat by magnetic resonance spectroscopy. RESULTS. With food intake constant, peripheral insulin sensitivity decreased by 41% after stopping metreleptin for 14 days (withdrawal cohort) and increased by 32% after starting metreleptin for 14 days (initiation cohort). In the initiation cohort only, metreleptin decreased fasting glucose by 11%, triglycerides by 41%, and increased hepatic insulin sensitivity. Liver fat decreased from 21.8% to 18.7%. In the initiation cohort, lipolysis did not change independent of food intake, but decreased after six months on metreleptin on an ad libitum diet by 30% (palmitate turnover) to 35% (glycerol turnover). CONCLUSION. Using lipodystrophy as a human model of leptin deficiency and replacement, we showed that metreleptin improves insulin sensitivity, and decreases hepatic and circulating triglycerides, independent of its effects on food intake. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01778556. FUNDING. This research was supported by the intramural research program of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Rebecca J. Brown, Areli Valencia, Megan Startzell, Elaine Cochran, Peter J. Walter, H. Martin Garraffo, Hongyi Cai, Ahmed M. Gharib, Ronald Ouwerkerk, Amber B. Courville, Shanna Bernstein, Robert J. Brychta, Kong Y. Chen, Mary Walter, Sungyoung Auh, Phillip Gorden