Leptin for Abnormal Lipid Kinetics in HIV Lipodystrophy Syndrome

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Brief Title

Leptin for Abnormal Lipid Kinetics in HIV Lipodystrophy Syndrome

Official Title

The Effect of Leptin Therapy on Abnormal Lipid Kinetics in Subjects With HIV Lipodystrophy Syndrome

Brief Summary

      "HIV lipodystrophy syndrome" (HLS) is characterized by loss of fat in the arms and legs, with
      increase in fat in the abdomen, and abnormal blood lipid levels. Persons with HLS have high
      risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus and the metabolic syndrome. The
      investigators have previously shown that the abnormal lipid levels and lipodystrophy in HLS
      are associated with defective regulation of lipid metabolic rates, specifically, accelerated
      lipolysis (breakdown of stored fats), and decreased fat oxidation (utilization of fats for
      energy). Patients with HLS also have low levels of the hormone leptin. The investigators
      hypothesize that treatment of these patients with leptin will improve fat oxidation and may
      slow the rate of lipolysis. Hence, the investigators propose to study the effect of leptin
      therapy on lipid metabolic rates and lipid and glucose levels in adults with HLS. The
      investigators will use state of the art stable isotope tracer techniques and gas
      chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) to measure lipolysis, fat oxidation, and fat
      re-esterification in adipose tissues and liver.

Detailed Description

      The HIV lipodystrophy syndrome (HLS) is characterized by peripheral fat wasting and central
      obesity, and hyperlipidemia (mainly hypertriglyceridemia), which results in insulin
      resistance. HLS patients are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and
      the metabolic syndrome.

      The investigators have previously shown that the alterations in lipid metabolism in the
      so-called mixed form of HLS are due to dysregulation of lipid kinetics at two levels. First,
      there appears to be an acceleration in lipid kinetics, with higher total and net lipolysis
      despite higher intra-adipocyte re-esterification. However, the percentage of fatty acid flux
      being oxidized remains the same, leading to increased hepatic recycling of fatty acids to
      triglycerides (TG), and export of TG-rich VLDL into the circulation. Second, there is reduced
      clearance of chylomicron and VLDL-TG from the plasma, resulting in the striking
      hypertriglyceridemia associated with this syndrome. The investigators propose that these
      alterations in lipid kinetics account for the phenotypic changes characteristic of this
      syndrome: increased lipolysis would facilitate peripheral lipoatrophy, increased
      intra-adipocyte re-esterification (if selective in intrabdominal depots) would contribute to
      the central obesity, and increased hepatic re-esterification together with impaired VLDL- and
      chylomicron-TG clearance would lead to hypertriglyceridemia.

      Rational treatment of HLS should be targeted at these fundamental kinetic defects. Leptin is
      in many ways an ideal agent, since it increases fat oxidation, and shifts the ratio of
      utilization of free fatty acids derived from lipolysis towards oxidation and away from
      re-esterification, and decreases plasma triglyceride levels. HLS patients with lipoatrophy
      have low circulating levels of leptin. Moreover, leptin has been shown to be effective in
      correcting similar defects in fat redistribution and circulating lipids in non-HIV forms of
      lipodystrophy. Hence, the investigators propose to study (using a blinded,
      placebo-controlled, dose escalating design) the effect of leptin therapy on lipid kinetics
      and fat distribution in adult subjects with the lipoatrophic and mixed (peripheral
      lipoatrophy and central adiposity) forms of HLS. The investigators will use state of the art
      stable isotope tracer techniques and gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) to measure
      whole body lipolysis, lipid oxidation, lipid re-esterification and hepatic lipid recycling.

Study Type


Primary Outcome

Rate of Total Lipolysis

Secondary Outcome

 Rates of Fatty Acid Oxidation


HIV Lipodystrophy


Human recombinant leptin ("metreleptin")

Study Arms / Comparison Groups

 human recombinant leptin (metreleptin)
Description:  Each subject received 0.02 mg leptin / kg body weight daily by subcutaneous injection for two months, followed by 0.04 mg leptin / kg for two more months.


* Includes publications given by the data provider as well as publications identified by National Clinical Trials Identifier (NCT ID) in Medline.

Recruitment Information

Recruitment Status


Estimated Enrollment


Start Date

February 2003

Completion Date

October 2011

Primary Completion Date

June 2011

Eligibility Criteria

        Inclusion Criteria:

          -  predominantly lipoatrophic or mixed phenotype of HIV-lipodystrophy (based on
             self-observation and evaluation by a study physician utilizing a visual scale;

          -  AM fasting leptin < 4.0 ng/ml

          -  hypertriglyceridemia (fasting serum TG 250-1000 mg /dl).

          -  normal biochemistry (except altered lipid and glucose profile). Patients with the
             American Diabetes Association diagnostic criteria for diabetes were included provided
             the HbA1c level was <7.5% and they received no anti-diabetic medications for at least
             3 months.

          -  well-controlled HIV infection status evidenced by viral RNA titers <400 copies/ml, on
             stable HAART.

        Exclusion Criteria:

          -  acute or chronic illnesses.

          -  use of antidiabetic medications in the previous 3 months, or of lipid-lowering drugs
             in the previous 6 weeks are also exclusion criteria. Other drugs excluded are growth
             hormone (if used without evidence of growth hormone deficiency), Megace and
             testosterone (if used without evidence of hypogonadism).




18 Years - 64 Years

Accepts Healthy Volunteers



Ashok Balasubramanyam, MD, , 

Location Countries

United States

Location Countries

United States

Administrative Informations



Organization ID


Responsible Party

Principal Investigator

Study Sponsor

Baylor College of Medicine

Study Sponsor

Ashok Balasubramanyam, MD, Principal Investigator, Baylor College of Medicine

Verification Date

December 2015