We study patients who have rare, extreme forms of insulin resistance, meaning that the body produces the hormone insulin, but insulin does not work properly to control blood sugars. Examples of these diseases are
- lipodystrophy, which is loss of fatty tissues in parts of the body;
- mutations—permanent changes—in an insulin receptor, which is an area on the outer part of a cell that binds to insulin;
- autoantibodies—antibodies directed to one’s self—to the insulin receptors; and
- other related problems.
We use a variety of different treatments for these conditions, including treatment with the hormone leptin. Leptin is made by fat, and is low or missing in people with lipodystrophy. Treatment with leptin can improve diabetes, high cholesterol, and other medical problems in people with lipodystrophy. We are trying to understand how leptin works to improve health in lipodystrophy and other diseases.