Anti-inflammatory, anti-atherogenic and anti-diabetic properties of adiponectin make this adipokine an attractive target in the metabolism research. Given its biological role, genetic variation in adiponectin affecting its function might consequently play a role in the pathophysiology of various metabolic disorders. In this light, genetic aspects of adiponectin including its gene structure, heritability of serum concentrations and the role of genetic variation have been addressed in multiple genetic studies. Here, we provide a brief summary of adiponectin genetics with focus on gene structure and genetic variation controlling circulating adiponectin levels. We summarize the main findings from genome-wide linkage and association studies that have revealed the major genetic determinants of serum adiponectin. Beside genetic variants in the adiponectin gene, several other genes/loci (ARL15, CDH13, KNG1, FER, ETV5) contributing to the variability in circulating adiponectin have been identified. The majority of these variants are significantly associated with metabolic phenotypes relevant to metabolic diseases (e.g. obesity or type 2 diabetes (T2D)). Considering the protective properties of adiponectin in diseases such as T2D, comprehensive analyses of genetic variants including rare as well as frequent polymorphisms might provide insights on the specific role of adiponectin in the pathophysiology of metabolic diseases.
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