Context: Adiponectin levels are lower in obese children and adolescents, whereas markers of inflammation and proinflammatory cytokines are higher. Hypoadiponectinemia may contribute to the low-grade systemic chronic inflammatory state associated with childhood obesity.
Objective: We investigated whether C-reactive protein (CRP), the prototype of inflammation, is related to adiponectin levels independently of insulin resistance and adiposity.
Design, setting, participants, and main outcome measures: In a multiethnic cohort of 589 obese children and adolescents, we administered a standard oral glucose tolerance test and obtained baseline measurements for adiponectin, plasma lipid profile, CRP, IL-6, and leptin.
Results: Stratifying the cohort into quartiles of adiponectin levels and adjusting for potential confounding variables, such as age, gender, ethnicity, body mass index z-score, pubertal status, and insulin sensitivity, the present study revealed that low levels of adiponectin are associated not only with higher CRP levels, but also with components of the metabolic syndrome, such as low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and a high triglyceride-to-high-density-lipoprotein ratio.
Conclusions: The link between adiponectin levels and a strong marker of inflammation, CRP, is independent of insulin resistance and adiposity in obese children and adolescents. Adiponectin may be one of the signals linking inflammation and obesity. Thus, adiponectin may function as a biomarker of the metabolic syndrome in childhood obesity.