Serum haptoglobin: a novel marker of adiposity in humans

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Jun;89(6):2678-83. doi: 10.1210/jc.2003-031965.


Haptoglobin (Hp) is a glycoprotein involved in the acute phase response to inflammation. Our previous findings indicate that Hp mRNA and protein are present in the adipose tissue of rodents and that Hp gene expression is up-regulated in obese models. The aim of the present study was to establish whether Hp could be considered a marker of obesity in humans. In 312 subjects, serum Hp was correlated directly with body mass index (BMI), leptin, C-reactive protein (CRP), and age. In a multivariate stepwise regression analysis, BMI and CRP were independent determinants of serum Hp in females, with BMI having the strongest effect. CRP and age were independent determinants of serum Hp in males, although explaining only a modest percentage of the total variability. Serum Hp was positively associated with body fat, as assessed by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, both in female and in male groups. The level of significance improved when serum Hp was analyzed against fat mass adjusted for lean mass. Finally, Northern and Western blot analyses performed in biopsies of sc abdominal fat from 20 obese individuals showed the presence of Hp mRNA and protein in the human adipose tissue. In conclusion, serum Hp constitutes a novel marker of adiposity in humans, and the adipose tissue likely contributes to determine its levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Haptoglobins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Obesity / diagnosis


  • Biomarkers
  • Haptoglobins