Adipokines correlate with pain in lower limb osteoarthritis: different associations in hip and knee

Int Orthop. 2014 Dec;38(12):2577-83. doi: 10.1007/s00264-014-2416-9. Epub 2014 Jul 9.


Purpose: Our aim was to investigate whether serum and synovial-fluid (SF) concentrations of interleukin-6 (IL-6), leptin, adiponectin, resistin or visfatin are associated with joint pain in hip and knee in end-stage osteoarthritis (OA).

Methods: A cross-sectional study assessing patients with hip and knee OA undergoing total joint arthroplasty between January and December 2010 was conducted at a large university hospital. Serum and SF cytokine and adipokine concentrations were determined in samples obtained on the day of surgery. The main outcome was pain severity measured pre-operatively using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) and visual analogue scale (VAS) pain scores.

Results: A total of 206 patients were involved (112 with hip and 94 with knee OA). Median age was 72 years [interquartile range (IQR) 66-79], 59% were women. All adipokine levels were significantly higher in the SF of hip joints than in that of knee joints, except for leptin, which tended to be higher in the knee. In both hip and knee OA, median serum concentrations of leptin, adiponectin, resistin and visfatin exceeded those in SF, whereas for IL-6, median concentrations were much higher in SF than in serum. In hip OA, worse pain was significantly associated with high SF concentrations of IL-6, visfatin and leptin; in knee OA, it was associated with high SF leptin and low SF adiponectin concentrations and a low adiponectin-leptin ratio.

Conclusion: Our findings support a connection between intra-articular concentrations of several adipokines and severity of preoperative OA pain. However, the specific adipokines differed by joints: in hip OA, pain was associated with IL-6 and visfatin and in knee OA with adiponectin; leptin played a role in both hip and knee OA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / blood
  • Adipokines / metabolism*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism*
  • Leptin / blood
  • Leptin / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Nicotinamide Phosphoribosyltransferase / blood
  • Nicotinamide Phosphoribosyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / blood
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / metabolism*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / blood
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / metabolism*
  • Resistin / metabolism
  • Synovial Fluid / metabolism*


  • Adipokines
  • Interleukin-6
  • Leptin
  • Resistin
  • Nicotinamide Phosphoribosyltransferase