The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Associations between Metabolic Risk Factors and the Hypothalamic Volume in Childhood Leukemia Survivors Treated with Cranial Radiotherapy

Follin C1, Gabery S2, Petersén Å2, Sundgren PC3, Björkman-Burtcher I3,4, Lätt J3, Mannfolk P3 and Erfurth EM1.

1Department of Endocrinology, Skåne University hospital and IKVL, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
2Translational Neuroendocrine Research Unit, Department of Experimental Medical Science, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
3Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Skåne University Hospital and IKVL/Lund University, Lund, Sweden.4Lund University Bioimaging Centre (LBIC), Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

PLoS One. Jan 29;11(1):e0147575 (2016)


Metabolic complications are prevalent in individuals treated with cranial radiotherapy (CRT) for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The hypothalamus is a master regulator of endocrine and metabolic control. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the hypothalamic volume would be associated to metabolic parameters in ALL survivors. Thirty-eight (21 women) survivors participated in this study 34 years after diagnosis and with a median age of 38 (27-46) years. All were treated with a median CRT dose of 24 Gy and 11 years (3-13) of complete hormone supplementation. Comparisons were made to 31 matched controls. We performed analyses of fat mass, fat free mass, plasma (p)-glucose, p-insulin, Homa-Index (a measure of insulin resistance), serum (s)-leptin, s-ghrelin and of the hypothalamic volume in scans obtained by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at 3 Tesla. Serum leptin/kg fat mass (r = -0.4, P = 0.04) and fat mass (r = -0.4, P = 0.01) were negatively correlated with the HT volume among ALL survivors, but not among controls. We also detected significantly higher BMI, waist, fat mass, p-insulin, Homa-Index, leptin/kg fat mass and s-ghrelin and significantly lower fat free mass specifically among female ALL survivors (all P<0.01). Interestingly, s-ghrelin levels increased with time since diagnosis and with low age at diagnosis for childhood ALL. Our results showed that leptin/kg fat mass and fat mass were associated with a reduced HT volume 34 years after ALL diagnosis and that women treated with CRT after ALL are at high risk of metabolic abnormalities. Taken together our data suggest that the hypothalamus is involved in the metabolic consequences after CRT in ALL survivors.