Genetic syndromes of severe insulin resistance.

27 Apr 2018

Insulin resistance underpins the link between obesity and most of its associated metabolic disorders including type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, dyslipidaemia and cardiovascular disease. Despite its importance and extensive scientific endeavour, its precise molecular pathogenesis remains unclear. Monogenic syndromes of extreme insulin resistance, whilst rare in themselves, can provide unique insights into the pathogenesis of human insulin resistance. Severe insulin resistance syndromes are broadly classified into three categories: lipodystrophies, primary insulin signalling defects or complex syndromes including severe insulin resistance. Genetically confirmed classification has facilitated the identification of robust diagnostic biochemical features accelerating accurate clinical diagnosis. Interestingly the biochemical features of lipodystrophies are far more closely aligned to what is seen in prevalent forms of insulin resistance than those of primary insulin signalling defects, suggesting that lipodystrophy could be a relevant model for common disease. This assertion is supported by genome-wide association data indicating that SNPs associated with fasting hyperinsulinemia and metabolic dyslipidaemia, are strongly associated with a subtle reduction in hip fat, suggesting that subtle forms of lipodystrophy are likely to be a significant contributor to prevalent insulin resistance.