Adiponectin: a link between excess adiposity and associated comorbidities?

J Mol Med (Berl). 2002 Nov;80(11):696-702. doi: 10.1007/s00109-002-0378-7. Epub 2002 Sep 10.


Adiponectin is a novel polypeptide that is highly specific to adipose tissue. In contrast to other adipocytokines, adiponectin levels are decreased in obesity and associated comorbidities, such as type 2 diabetes. Decreased expression of adiponectin is correlated with insulin resistance. It has been suggested that several agents, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha, could mediate their effects on insulin metabolism through modulating adiponectin secretion from adipocytes. The mechanisms for the development of atherosclerotic vascular disease in obese individuals are largely unknown. Several findings support the interesting hypothesis that adiponectin could be a link between obesity and related atherosclerosis. First, adiponectin levels are lower in patients with coronary artery disease. Second, adiponectin modulates endothelial function and has an inhibitory effect on vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation. Moreover, adiponectin is accumulated more preferably to the injured vascular wall than intact vessels and has been shown to suppress macrophage-to-foam cell transformation. Adiponectin may also be involved in the modulation of inflammation. Thiazolidinediones, antiatherogenic and other effects have been explained by their direct enhancing effect on adiponectin. In conclusion, adiponectin has anti-inflammatory and antiatherogeneic effects as well as multiple beneficial effects on metabolism. Therefore it is not a surprise that adiponectin therapy has been tested in animal models of obesity, and it has been shown to ameliorate hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia without inducing weight gain or even inducing weight loss in some studies. Unlike agents that exert their effects centrally, adiponectin's effects seem to be peripherally mediated. The evidence of an association between adiponectin and the metabolic and cardiovascular complications of obesity is growing all the time.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / physiology*
  • Adiponectin
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology
  • Comorbidity*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Proteins / physiology*


  • Adiponectin
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Proteins