Retinol-binding protein 4 correlates with triglycerides but not insulin resistance in prepubertal children with and without premature adrenarche

J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2011;24(9-10):683-7. doi: 10.1515/jpem.2011.322.


Background: Retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4) has been proposed as an early marker for insulin resistance (IR), but no prior studies have addressed RBP4 in an exclusively prepubertal population. Children with premature adrenarche (PA) are at increased risk for IR and metabolic syndrome (MeS); thus finding an appropriate early marker for IR in this population would allow for early intervention and prevention of morbidity related to IR and MeS.

Objective: To determine whether prepubertal children with PA have higher levels of RBP4 than controls and whether RBP4 correlates with comorbidities of metabolic disease in prepubertal children.

Subjects: This study comprised 49 prepubertal children (24 with PA and 25 control subjects), 20 boys and 29 girls, who were between the ages of 5 and 9 years.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional, case-control study conducted in a subspecialty ambulatory clinic based in a quaternary care center. RBP4 levels, hormonal values, lipids, and response to an oral glucose tolerance test were evaluated in children with PA and controls, and body composition measures were obtained in a subset of patients (n = 18).

Results: RBP4 correlated with triglycerides (r = 0.57, p < 0.0001) but did not correlate with IR in a body mass index z-score-adjusted Pearson correlation analysis. There was no difference in RBP4 levels between the PA and control groups.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that RBP4 may be an early marker of dyslipidemia, which may herald future onset of hepatic IR, polycystic ovary syndrome, and MeS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adrenarche / physiology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hormones / blood
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Puberty, Precocious / blood*
  • Puberty, Precocious / diagnosis
  • Puberty, Precocious / epidemiology
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins, Plasma / metabolism*
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • Hormones
  • RBP4 protein, human
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins, Plasma
  • Triglycerides