Nutrition Science student's summer project finds new diabetes sub-group

A University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) medical student engaged in a summer fellowship discovered a previously uncategorized sub group of patients with type 2 diabetes that might bring about changes in clinical practice. The findings, published online in February in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association, suggest that physicians will need to be on the lookout for patients presenting with the characteristics of the new subgroup.

StricklandLeah_sIn 2012, during the summer between her first and second years of medical school, Leah Strickland did a research fellowship through a diabetes research training grant at UAB. She compared 10 women with Type 2 diabetes who had a condition known as partial lipodystrophy of the limbs (PLL) against a control group of 10 women with diabetes without lipodystrophy. 

Lipodystrophy refers to the loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue, or fat beneath the skin. It has been identified in diabetic patients before and is usually seen in the torso. Strickland’s research showed that there was a distinct group of woman who had Type 2 diabetes, PLL, no family history of lipodystrophy and a marked increase in insulin resistance and triglyceride levels.