Background: Resistin, a peptide hormone, has been discussed controversially as a missing link between obesity and insulin resistance. In contrast to resistin mRNA expression in adipose tissue, data on human serum levels in obesity and diabetes mellitus is scarce. The physiological range of serum resistin levels, reference values or adjusted percentiles have not yet been determined, making the interpretation of serum resistin concentrations quite difficult.
Methods: Resistin serum concentrations were measured systematically by ELISA in 216 healthy controls, 555 patients with type 2 diabetes and 114 patients with type 1 diabetes. Mean values, median, and range were determined, and BMI-, gender-, and disease-adapted percentiles were calculated for all subgroups.
Results: Age and gender did not have any influence on resistin levels. BMI and resistin levels were positively correlated in healthy controls (p = 0.02), albeit with a weak correlation coefficient. This correlation was absent in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In both genders, healthy controls had significantly higher resistin levels than patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes (7.9 +/- 0.2 ng/ml vs. 5.7 +/- 0.2 ng/ml and 5.5 +/- 0.1 ng/ml, respectively; p < 0.0001). There was no correlation between resistin levels and occurrence of diabetic retinopathy or nephropathy.
Conclusions: Serum resistin levels can be measured by ELISA over a broad range from 0.6 ng/ml up to 27.7 ng/ml, suggesting that percentiles might be helpful in the interpretation of an individuals resistin value. While age and gender do not influence resistin levels, BMI and occurrence of diabetes have to be considered.