Spectrum of disease associated with partial lipodystrophy: lessons from a trial cohort

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2017 May;86(5):698-707. doi: 10.1111/cen.13311. Epub 2017 Mar 27.


Context: Partial lipodystrophy (PL) is associated with metabolic co-morbidities but may go undiagnosed as the disease spectrum is not fully described.

Objective: The objective of the study was to define disease spectrum in PL using genetic, clinical (historical, morphometric) and laboratory characteristics.

Design: Cross-sectional evaluation.

Participants: Twenty-three patients (22 with familial, one acquired, 78·3% female, aged 12-64 years) with PL and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Measurements: Genetic, clinical and laboratory characteristics, body composition indices, liver fat content by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), histopathological and immunofluorescence examinations of liver biopsies.

Results: Seven patients displayed heterozygous pathogenic variants in LMNA. Two related patients had a heterozygous, likely pathogenic novel variant of POLD1 (NM002691·3: c.3199 G>A; p.E1067K). Most patients had high ratios (>1·5) of percentage fat trunk to percentage fat legs (FMR) when compared to reference normals. Liver fat quantified using MR Dixon method was high (11·3 ± 6·3%) and correlated positively with haemoglobin A1c and triglycerides while leg fat by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) correlated negatively with triglycerides. In addition to known metabolic comorbidities; chronic pain (78·3%), hypertension (56·5%) and mood disorders (52·2%) were highly prevalent. Mean NAFLD Activity Score (NAS) was 5 ± 1 and 78·3% had fibrosis. LMNA-immunofluorescence staining from select patients (including one with the novel POLD1 variant) showed a high degree of nuclear atypia and disorganization.

Conclusions: Partial lipodystrophy is a complex multi-system disorder. Metabolic parameters correlate negatively with extremity fat and positively with liver fat. DEXA-based FMR may prove useful as a diagnostic tool. Nuclear disorganization and atypia may be a common biomarker even in the absence of pathogenic variants in LMNA.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Composition*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipodystrophy / diagnosis*
  • Lipodystrophy / genetics
  • Lipodystrophy / metabolism
  • Lipodystrophy / physiopathology
  • Lipodystrophy, Familial Partial / diagnosis*
  • Lipodystrophy, Familial Partial / genetics
  • Lipodystrophy, Familial Partial / metabolism
  • Lipodystrophy, Familial Partial / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult

Supplementary concepts

  • Lipodystrophy, Partial, Acquired