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Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2013 Aug;60(8):1287-91. doi: 10.1002/pbc.24489. Epub 2013 Feb 26.

Obesity and insulin resistance in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia worsens during maintenance therapy.

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Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.



Pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) survivors are at increased risk for the metabolic syndrome (MS). To establish the trajectory of development during active treatment, we followed patients longitudinally over the first year of maintenance therapy.


In a prospective cohort of 34 pediatric ALL patients, followed over the first 12 months of ALL maintenance, we evaluated changes in body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, fasting insulin and glucose, lipids, Homeostatic Metabolic Assessment (HOMA), leptin, and adiponectin.


Over the study time period, the median BMI z-score increased from 0.29 to 0.66 (P = 0.001), median fasting insulin levels increased from 2.9 to 3.1 µU/ml (P = 0.023), and the proportion of patients with insulin resistance by HOMA (>3.15) increased from 3% to 24% (P = 0.016). Median leptin increased from 2.5 to 3.5 ng/ml (P = 0.001), with levels correlated with BMI z-score. Median adiponectin level decreased from 18.0 to 14.0 µg/ml (P = 0.009), with levels inversely correlated to BMI z-score. No change in median total cholesterol and LDL levels was observed. Median triglycerides decreased (P < 0.001) and there was a trend to increase in HDL (P = 0.058). Blood pressure did not significantly change, although overall prevalence of systolic and diastolic hypertension was high (23.5% and 26.4%, respectively).


Following patients over the first year of ALL maintenance therapy demonstrated that components of the MS significantly worsen over time. Preventive interventions limiting increases in BMI and insulin resistance during maintenance therapy should be targeted during this time period to avoid long-term morbidity associated with the MS in long-term survivors.

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