The role of leptin in diencephalic syndrome

Pablo Velasco*, María Clemente, Raquel Lorite, M. Clara Ventura, Luis Gros, José Sanchez De Toledo, Soledad Gallego

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Diencephalic syndrome is a rare condition associated with central nervous system tumors. The most common presentation is secondary failure to thrive with proper caloric intake and no statural impairment. Despite the importance of this syndrome, little is known of its pathophysiology. Some reports have documented changes in human growth hormone and insulin levels at the onset, whereas others have described endocrine disorders of hypothalamic insufficiency resulting from surgery of the tumor. It has been suggested that the hormonal changes described, such as increased human growth hormone and ghrelin or decreased insulin and leptin levels, are related to a patient's BMI. These findings support the role of these 4 hormones as indicators of the patient's nutritional status but not as mediators or potential therapeutic targets of the disease. We report the case of an infant who initially presented with tumor progression and, after chemotherapy, progressive weight gain and reduced tumor size. Because he presented no hormonal deficiencies or obesity after therapy, we were able to analyze his hormonal status uninfluenced by effects of metabolic treatment or excess weight. Although ghrelin and leptin levels have been related to nutritional status, our patient's leptin levels fell when tumor size decreased and weight increased: an extraordinary finding because leptin concentration is expected to increase with weight gain. This paradoxical response suggests that leptin may be dysregulated in diencephalic syndrome or that the diencephalic astrocytoma may have had an effect on leptin secretion.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)e263-e266
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Brain tumor
  • Diencephalic syndrome
  • Emaciation
  • Leptin


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