Low serum adiponectin levels in childhood and adolescence predict increased intima-media thickness in adulthood. The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study

Ann Med. 2017 Feb;49(1):42-50. doi: 10.1080/07853890.2016.1226513. Epub 2016 Sep 22.


Introduction: Low adiponectin levels may predict the development of atherosclerosis. We examined the association of childhood adiponectin with preclinical carotid atherosclerosis that is defined as plaque and/or high (≥95th percentile) intima-media thickness (IMT) at the carotid bifurcation in adulthood.

Methods: The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study is a cohort study on cardiovascular risk factors. We used risk factor data from the baseline study (1980) and ultrasound findings from the follow-ups (2001 and 2007). The study population included 1708 participants, aged 3-18 years at baseline.

Results: In multivariate analysis, childhood adiponectin was inversely associated with preclinical carotid atherosclerosis: odds ratio 0.68, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53-0.86, p = .001, for 1-SD increase in childhood adiponectin after adjusting for childhood non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, body mass index, and blood pressure. When examining the incremental predictive ability, we observed that compared to an approach utilizing only conventional risk factors, the model additionally including adiponectin levels improved c-statistics area under curve from 0.733 (95% Cl 0.694-0.771) to 0.748 (95% Cl 0.710-0.786), p = .02.

Conclusions: Childhood adiponectin levels improve the prediction of carotid atherosclerosis in adulthood over conventional risk factors. This supports the idea that low adiponectin levels may have a role in the development of preclinical atherosclerosis. Key messages Childhood adiponectin levels improve the prediction of increased carotid intima-media thickness in adulthood over conventional cardiovascular risk factors. These results suggest that adiponectin levels measured in childhood may have a role in the atherosclerotic process.

Keywords: Adiponectin; cardiovascular disease; epidemiology; intima-media thickness; risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / blood*
  • Adolescent
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Carotid Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / metabolism
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / physiopathology
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins / blood
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Factors


  • Adiponectin
  • Lipoproteins