Background: The adipocyte-secreted hormone adiponectin has insulin-sensitizing and anti-inflammatory properties. Although development of pancreatic cancer is associated with states of insulin resistance and chronic inflammation, the mechanistic basis of the associations is poorly understood.
Methods: To determine whether prediagnostic plasma levels of adiponectin are associated with risk of pancreatic cancer, we conducted a nested case-control study of 468 pancreatic cancer case subjects and 1080 matched control subjects from five prospective US cohorts: Health Professionals Follow-up Study, Nurses' Health Study, Physicians' Health Study, Women's Health Initiative, and Women's Health Study. Control subjects were matched to case subjects by prospective cohort, year of birth, smoking status, fasting status, and month of blood draw. All samples for plasma adiponectin were handled identically in a single batch. Odds ratios were calculated with conditional logistic regression, and linearity of the association between adiponectin and pancreatic cancer was modeled with restricted cubic spline regression. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results: Median plasma adiponectin was lower in case subjects versus control subjects (6.2 vs 6.8 µg/mL, P = .009). Plasma adiponectin was inversely associated with pancreatic cancer risk, which was consistent across the five prospective cohorts (P (heterogeneity) = .49) and independent of other markers of insulin resistance (eg, diabetes, body mass index, physical activity, plasma C-peptide). Compared with the lowest quintile of adiponectin, individuals in quintiles 2 to 5 had multivariable odds ratios ([ORs] 95% confidence intervals [CIs]) of OR = 0.61 (95% CI = 0.43 to 0.86), OR = 0.58 (95% CI = 0.41 to 0.84), OR = 0.59 (95% CI = 0.40 to 0.87), and OR = 0.66 (95% CI = 0.44 to 0.97), respectively (P (trend) = .04). Restricted cubic spline regression confirmed a nonlinear association (P (nonlinearity) < .01). The association was not modified by sex, smoking, body mass index, physical activity, or C-peptide (all P (interaction) > .10).
Conclusions: In this pooled analysis, low prediagnostic levels of circulating adiponectin were associated with an elevated risk of pancreatic cancer.