Context: Adiponectin is suspected to exert antiatherogenic, antiinflammatory, and insulin-sensitizing effects. However, the relative importance of the genetic and environmental factors in influencing plasma adiponectin levels (ADPN) remains unclear.
Objective: The aim of the study was to investigate whether ADPN and body mass index (BMI) are genetically determined.
Design, setting, participants, and main outcome measures: In a series of 60 pairs of healthy twins, we estimated genetic variance and heritability of ADPN and BMI using both ANOVA and path analysis methods. Twins were genotyped at two biallelic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at the gene encoding adiponectin: the +45 T/G (on exon 2) and the -11377 G/C (on the promoter).
Results: A total of 30 pairs of twins were Monozygotic (MZ), and 30 were dizygotic (DZ). The mean ADPN (+/-SD) was 10.6 +/- 5.7 in MZ and 11.1 +/- 4.5 in DZ twins (nonsignificant). Three tests of heritability (within pair = 1.13, P < 0.0001; among components = 1.62, P = 0.005; and intraclass correlation 1.34, P < 0.0001) consistently showed ADPN heritability. The preferred model of a likelihood-based analysis included an additive genetic influence and an individually unique environmental influence for ADPN, accounting for 88% and 12% of ADPN variance, respectively. We found a significantly higher within-pair difference of ADPN in DZ than in MZ pairs, and in +45 T/G SNP discordant compared with concordant DZ twins, indicating a significant effect of this adiponectin gene SNP on ADPN.
Conclusions: ADPN shows significant genetic variance and heritability, which is independent of BMI and partly accounted for by the +45 T/G, but not the -11377 G/C adiponectin gene SNP.