Cardiac steatosis and left ventricular hypertrophy in patients with generalized lipodystrophy as determined by magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging

Am J Cardiol. 2013 Oct 1;112(7):1019-24. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2013.05.036. Epub 2013 Jun 22.


Generalized lipodystrophy is a rare disorder characterized by marked loss of adipose tissue with reduced triglyceride storage capacity, leading to a severe form of metabolic syndrome including hypertriglyceridemia, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and hepatic steatosis. Recent echocardiographic studies suggest that concentric left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy is another characteristic feature of this syndrome, but the mechanism remains unknown. It has recently been hypothesized that the LV hypertrophy could be an extreme clinical example of "lipotoxic cardiomyopathy": excessive myocyte accumulation of triglyceride leading to adverse hypertrophic signaling. To test this hypothesis, the first cardiac magnetic resonance study of patients with generalized lipodystrophy was performed, using magnetic resonance imaging and localized proton spectroscopy to detect excessive triglyceride content in the hypertrophied myocytes. Six patients with generalized lipodystrophy and 6 healthy controls matched for age, gender, and body mass index were studied. As hypothesized, myocardial triglyceride content was threefold higher in patients than controls: 0.6 ± 0.2% versus 0.2 ± 0.1% (p = 0.004). The presence of pericardial fat was also found, representing a previously undescribed adipose depot in generalized lipodystrophy. Patients with generalized lipodystrophy, compared with controls, also had a striking degree of concentric LV hypertrophy, independent of blood pressure: LV mass index 101.0 ± 18.3 versus 69.0 ± 17.7 g/m(2), respectively (p = 0.02), and LV concentricity 1.3 ± 0.3 versus 0.99 ± 0.1 g/ml, respectively (p = 0.04). In conclusion, these findings advance the lipotoxicity hypothesis as a putative underlying mechanism for the dramatic concentric LV hypertrophy found in generalized lipodystrophy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / pathology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / etiology
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / metabolism
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Heart Ventricles / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / etiology
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / metabolism
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / pathology*
  • Lipodystrophy, Congenital Generalized / complications
  • Lipodystrophy, Congenital Generalized / metabolism
  • Lipodystrophy, Congenital Generalized / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Organ Size
  • Pericardium / pathology*
  • Triglycerides / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Triglycerides