Ethnic and Sex Differences in Adiponectin: From Childhood to Adulthood

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Dec;101(12):4808-4815. doi: 10.1210/jc.2016-1137. Epub 2016 Sep 7.


Context: Insulin resistance (IR) and type 2 diabetes are increasing, particularly in Hispanic (H) vs non-Hispanic White (NHW) populations. Adiponectin has a known role in IR, and therefore, understanding ethnic and sex-specific behavior of adiponectin across the lifespan is of clinical significance.

Objective: To compare ethnic and sex differences in adiponectin, independent of body mass index, across the lifespan and relationship to IR.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: Primary care, referral center.

Patients: A total of 187 NHW and 117 H participants (8-57 y) without diabetes. Life stage: pre-/early puberty (Tanner 1/2), midpubertal (Tanner 3/4), late pubertal (Tanner 5, <21 years), and adult (Tanner 5, ≥21).

Interventions: None.

Main outcome measure(s): Fasting adiponectin, insulin, glucose, and revised homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance.

Results: Adiponectin was significantly inversely correlated with revised homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance. Regarding puberty, adiponectin trended downward in late puberty, but only males were significantly lower in adulthood. By sex, adiponectin was lower in adult males vs females of both ethnicities. Regarding ethnicity, H adults of both sexes had lower adiponectin than NHW adults. Of note, in NHW females, adiponectin trended highest in adulthood, whereas in H females, adiponectin fell in late puberty and remained lower in adulthood.

Conclusions: Adiponectin inversely correlated with IR, trended down in late puberty, and was lowest in adult males. H adults of both sexes had lower adiponectin than NHW adults, and H females followed a more "male pattern," lacking the rebound in adiponectin seen in NHW females after puberty. These data suggest that adiponectin, independent of body mass index, may relate to the greater cardiometabolic risk seen in H populations and in particular H females.

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / blood*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Colorado / ethnology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Human Development / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / ethnology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Puberty / blood*
  • Sex Factors
  • White People / ethnology*
  • Young Adult


  • ADIPOQ protein, human
  • Adiponectin