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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1992 Aug;75(2):358-61.

Peculiar distribution of adipose tissue in patients with congenital generalized lipodystrophy.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas 75235.


Congenital generalized lipodystrophy (CGL) is a rare genetic disease with extreme paucity of fat from birth which is believed to be generalized, involving the whole body. Affected patients are characterized by severe insulin resistance. Sites of adipose tissue distribution in patients with CGL have not been studied systematically. Therefore, the fat distribution in three women (17-20 yr old) with CGL was investigated. Determination of body composition by underwater volume displacement suggested the complete absence of body fat (range, -3 to -7%; normal, 15-25%). Whole body magnetic resonance imaging, however, detected fat in particular anatomical sites, namely in orbits, palms and soles, and periarticular and epidural regions. Some fat was also localized in the tongue, breasts, vulva, and buccal area. Fat in other subcutaneous areas, intraabdominal and intrathoracic regions, and bone marrow was essentially absent. Thus, patients with CGL do not have a complete absence of body fat; of interest, fat is present in those sites where adipose tissue may be serving mainly a mechanical function. Patients with CGL, therefore, provided a unique opportunity to identify the various sites of localization of "mechanical" adipose tissue in the human body. Our study suggests that the genetic defect in CGL results in poor growth and development of metabolically active adipose tissue, whereas mechanical adipose tissue is well preserved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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