Lipodystrophy for the Diabetologist—What to Look For

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: Genetic or acquired lipodystrophies are characterized by selective loss of body fat along with predisposition towards metabolic complications of insulin resistance, such as diabetes mellitus, hypertriglyceridemia, hepatic steatosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and acanthosis nigricans. In this review, we discuss the various subtypes and when to suspect and how to diagnose lipodystrophy. Recent Findings: The four major subtypes are autosomal recessive, congenital generalized lipodystrophy (CGL); acquired generalized lipodystrophy (AGL), mostly an autoimmune disorder; autosomal dominant or recessive familial partial lipodystrophy (FPLD); and acquired partial lipodystrophy (APL), an autoimmune disorder. Diagnosis of lipodystrophy is mainly based upon physical examination findings of loss of body fat and can be supported by body composition analysis by skinfold measurements, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, and whole-body magnetic resonance imaging. Confirmatory genetic testing is helpful in the proband and at-risk family members with suspected genetic lipodystrophies. The treatment is directed towards the specific comorbidities and metabolic complications, and there is no treatment to reverse body fat loss. Metreleptin should be considered as the first-line therapy for metabolic complications in patients with generalized lipodystrophy and for prevention of comorbidities in children. Metformin and insulin therapy are the best options for treating hyperglycemia and fibrates and/or fish oil for hypertriglyceridemia. Summary: Lipodystrophy should be suspected in lean and muscular subjects presenting with diabetes mellitus, hypertriglyceridemia, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or amenorrhea. Diabetologists should be aware of lipodystrophies and consider genetic varieties as an important subtype of monogenic diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCurrent diabetes reports
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • AGL
  • APL
  • Acanthosis nigricans
  • Acquired generalized lipodystrophy
  • Acquired partial lipodystrophy
  • CGL
  • Congenital generalized lipodystrophy
  • FPLD
  • Familial partial lipodystrophy
  • Hypertriglyceridemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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