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Ann Endocrinol (Paris). 2007 Feb;68(1):10-20. Epub 2007 Feb 21.

[Primary lipodystrophies].

[Article in French]

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Inserm, U680, 75012 Paris, France.


Primary lipodystrophies represent a heterogeneous group of very rare diseases with a prevalence of less than 1 case for 100.000, inherited or acquired, caracterized by a loss of body fat either generalized or localized (lipoatrophy). In some forms, lipoatrophy is associated with a selective hypertrophy of other fat depots. Clinical signs of insulin resistance are often present: acanthosis nigricans, signs of hyperandrogenism. All lipodystrophies are associated with dysmetabolic alterations with insulin resistance, altered glucose tolerance or diabetes and hypertriglyceridemia leading to a risk of acute pancreatitis. Chronic complications are those resulting from diabetes involving the retina, kidney and nerves, cardiovascular complications and steatotic liver lesions that could result in cirrhosis. Genetic forms of generalized lipodystrophy (or Berardinelli-Seip syndrome) result, in most cases, from recessive mutations in one of two genes: either BSCL2 coding seipin or BSCL1 coding AGPAT2, an acyl-transferase involved in triglyceride synthesis. Acquired generalized lipodystrophy (Lawrence syndrome) is of unknown origin but is sometimes associated with signs of autoimmunity. Partial lipodystrophies can be familial with dominant transmission. Heterozygous mutations have been identified in the LMNA gene encoding nuclear lamin A/C belonging to the nuclear lamina, or in PPARG encoding the adipogenic transcription factor PPARgamma. Some less typical lipodystrophies, associated with signs of premature aging, have been linked to mutations in LMNA or in the ZMPSTE24 gene encoding the protease responsible for the maturation of prelamin A into lamin A. Acquired partial lipodystrophy (Barraquer-Simons syndrome) is characterized by cephalothoracic fat loss. Its aetiology is unknown but mutations in LMNB2, encoding the lamina protein lamin B2, could represent susceptibility factors. Highly active antiretroviral treatments for HIV infection are currently the most frequent cause of acquired secondary lipodystrophic syndromes. The genetic diagnosis is performed in specialized laboratories and, in the most severe forms, antenatal diagnosis could be proposed. Treatment of diabetes, dyslipidemia and complications involves the classical intervention strategies. Insulino-sensitizing drugs are useful. Therapeutic trials with recombinant human leptin in patients with very low leptin levels reported good results with respect to the metabolic and liver alterations. The prognosis is linked to the precocity and severity of the diabetic, cardiovascular and liver complications.

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