Leptin Shows Advantages Over Insulin in Type 1 Diabetes

Study in mice finds leptin lowers hemoglobin A1c and lipids in plasma and tissue
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) -- The ability of leptin to restore hemoglobin A1c to normal in mice with diabetes (along with its additional benefits relating to body fat and cholesterol) suggests that the hormone may have a role in treating type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) in humans, and may have both short- and long-term advantages over insulin monotherapy, according to research published online March 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

May-yun Wang, Ph.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues analyzed data from non-obese mice with diabetes, a rodent model of T1DM.

The researchers showed that both leptin and insulin prevented ketoacidosis and death in the mice. Leptin also lowered hemoglobin A1c to a level similar to that in litter mates without diabetes. Depending on severity of the disease, leptin restored normoglycemia in one to nine days. However, unlike insulin, leptin reduced lipids in plasma and tissue, and lowered lipogenic and cholesterologenic transcription factors and enzymes.

"Whether or not the benefits of leptin therapy in T1DM mice can be translated to humans with T1DM will be important to determine. Since its discovery in 1994, leptin therapy in humans with diabetes has been limited to patients with generalized lipodystrophy, including two patients with coexisting acquired generalized lipodystrophy and T1DM. It will now be of great interest to assess its efficacy in the more common T1DM," the authors write.

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