Background: In men, high adiponectin concentrations were related to a lower risk of myocardial infarction, whereas no association with cardiovascular events was found in women.
Objective: To investigate sex differences in the associations of adiponectin with cardiovascular risk factors.
Design: Cross-sectional population-based KORA Survey 2000 in Southern Germany using the same study methods for cardiovascular risk factors as the former WHO MONICA project.
Participants: A total of 697 men and 657 women, aged 55-74 years. Glucose tolerance status was assessed by oral glucose tolerance tests.
Results: Adiponectin (geometric mean, interquartile range; microg/ml) levels were significantly higher in women (11.1; 8.5-14.9) than in men (7.1; 5.2-9.6) (P<0.05). In univariate analyses, HDL-cholesterol and age were significantly positively correlated with adiponectin in both sexes. Negative correlations were observed with BMI, waist circumference, fasting and postchallenge glucose, insulin, HOMA-IR, HbA1c, triglycerides, uric acid and CRP (P<0.01). In sex-specific multivariate regression, age and HDL-cholesterol were independently positively, and fasting insulin and 2-h glucose were negatively related to adiponectin in both sexes. Uric acid was significantly inversely related to adiponectin in women only (sex interaction: P=0.02). Exploratory sex-specific factor analysis of adiponectin and the core components of the metabolic syndrome yielded four similar factors. Adiponectin loaded negatively on the 'lipids' factor in both sexes.
Conclusion: The associations of adiponectin with cardiovascular risk factors showed a similar pattern in both sexes, except for uric acid. This small sex difference may not explain previous conflicting results on the association of adiponectin with cardiovascular events in men and women.