Background: High plasma concentrations of the vitamin E-binding protein afamin have been previously shown to be associated with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. We set out to determine whether the concentration of afamin in the serum of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is elevated in relation to the presence and severity of insulin resistance (IR).
Methods: This cross-sectional study looked at 53 patients with PCOS and 49 non-PCOS patients. IR was diagnosed as a HOMA Index >2.4 and confirmed with a three-hour glucose tolerance test. Serum concentrations of afamin were determined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Clinical characteristics, hormone and metabolic parameters were correlated to afamin concentrations.
Results: Serum concentrations of afamin did not differ between women with PCOS and controls. When separated according to the presence of IR a significant difference in median afamin levels was seen between PCOS with IR and PCOS without IR (73.06+/-27.36 mg/L and 64.25+/-17.41 mg/L, p = 0.033). No difference in afamin levels was detected when comparing the few controls with IR and the controls without IR (76.20+/-27.96 mg/L and 60.44+/-21.03 mg/L, p = 0.235). On univariate analyses, afamin serum concentrations significantly correlated with BMI, triglycerides, HOMA Index, and AUC-Insulin. On multivariate linear regression analysis, only triglyceride concentration was seen to be an independent predictor of afamin. Subjects with metabolic syndrome had higher median afamin concentrations than did those without metabolic syndrome (77.43+/-28.60 mg/L and 65.08+/-18.03 mg/L, p = 0.010).
Conclusions: Elevated afamin concentrations are associated with the presence of metabolic syndrome in young women and may potentially serve as an independent predictor for the development of metabolic syndrome in at-risk women, especially those with IR.