The relationship between serum adiponectin, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, leptin levels and insulin sensitivity in childhood and adolescent obesity: adiponectin is a marker of metabolic syndrome

J Clin Res Pediatr Endocrinol. 2009;1(5):233-9. doi: 10.4274/jcrpe.v1i5.233. Epub 2009 Aug 4.


Objective: This study aimed (a) to investigate the relationship between the degree of obesity and serum adiponectin, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, leptin, insulin levels and the lipid profile; (b) to clarify the relationship between insulin resistance/glucose tolerance and adipocytokine levels; and (c) to investigate the value of adipocytokine levels as a marker of metabolic syndrome (MS).

Methods: We studied 151 obese children and adolescents (86 boys and 65 girls; mean age was 12.3±2.4 years). We defined obesity as a body-mass index (BMI) z-score more than 2 SD above the mean for age and sex. The control group consisted of 100 children (48 boys, 52 girls, mean age 12.4±2.5 years). Fasting glucose, insulin levels and lipid profiles were measured in all cases and controls after a 12-hour fast. Adiponectin, TNF-α, and leptin levels were measured in the subjects who participated in the adipocytokine branch of the study. An oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) was also performed in all obese patients. Obese patients were grouped into three subgroups according to their glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity assessment, and also according to whether they were grouped as MS or not.

Results: Serum levels of total cholesterol, LDL and VLDL cholesterol, log triglyceride, insulin, leptin and TNF-α were higher, whereas HDL and square root adiponectin levels were lower in the obese group when compared with controls. Multiple regression analysis among BMI-z score, LDL, triglyceride, HOMA-IR, leptin and TNF-α as determinants of adiponectin revealed that BMI-z score was the only determinant for adiponectin (r:-0.45, p<0.0001). Adiponectin levels in hyperinsulinemic and impaired glucose tolerance groups (IGT) tended to be lower than in normoinsulinemic obese children, however, the difference was not significant. There was a weak negative correlation between adiponectin levels and increasing severity of insulin resistance (r=-0.23, p=0.005) in the groups of obese subjects. Mean serum adiponectin level in subjects with MS was lower than in subjects without MS (p=0.008).

Conclusions: Evaluation of serum adiponectin levels might contribute to an early intervention in obese children with MS.

Keywords: Adiponectin; children; metabolic syndrome; obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / blood
  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood*


  • ADIPOQ protein, human
  • Adiponectin
  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Lipids
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha