CONTEXT: There is growing evidence that adiponectin, the most abundant adipocytokine of adipose tissue cells, plays a crucial role in advanced atherosclerosis.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to evaluate the role of adiponectin in early atherosclerosis.
DESIGN: One hundred forty obese juveniles (mean age, 13.5 +/- 4.4 yr) and 100 age-matched, healthy, normal-weight controls from the STYrian Juvenile Obesity Study were investigated. We measured adipocytokines, inflammatory biomarkers, parameters of insulin resistance, and lipid subfractions. Intima-media thickness (IMT) of common carotid arteries was determined by ultrasonography. Furthermore, lipometric measurements were performed in obese juveniles to determine the topographic distribution of sc adipose tissue (SAT).
RESULTS: Compared with controls, the group of obese juveniles exhibited a significantly increased IMT (P < 0.001) and elevated high-sensitive C-reactive protein (P < 0.001), indicating early stages of atherosclerosis. Serum levels of adiponectin were highly significantly negatively correlated with carotid IMT, even after controlling for common cardiovascular risk factors (P < 0.001; r = -0.34). Furthermore, adiponectin was positively correlated with high-density lipoprotein-free cholesterol and serum apolipoprotein-A1 and negatively with triglycerides, insulin resistance, uric acid, and serum transaminases. By a multiple regression analysis, adiponectin was shown to be the strongest predictive variable for carotid IMT. Finally, adiponectin was found positively correlated with SAT thickness of the rear and inner thigh in boys and negatively with the SAT thickness of the neck in girls.
CONCLUSION: In summary, our study describes an influence of SAT topography on adiponectin serum levels and provides first evidence that incipient atherosclerosis is associated with low serum levels of this adipocytokine.