Circulating leptin and adiponectin are associated with insulin resistance in healthy postmenopausal women with hot flashes

PLoS One. 2017 Apr 27;12(4):e0176430. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176430. eCollection 2017.


Introduction: Hot flashes have been postulated to be linked to the development of metabolic disorders. This study aimed to evaluate the relationship between hot flashes, adipocyte-derived hormones, and insulin resistance in healthy, non-obese postmenopausal women.

Participants and design: In this cross-sectional study, a total of 151 women aged 45-60 years were stratified into one of three groups according to hot-flash status over the past three months: never experienced hot flashes (Group N), mild-to-moderate hot flashes (Group M), and severe hot flashes (Group S). Variables measured in this study included clinical parameters, hot flash experience, fasting levels of circulating glucose, lipid profiles, plasma insulin, and adipocyte-derived hormones. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to evaluate the associations of hot flashes with adipocyte-derived hormones, and with insulin resistance.

Settings: The study was performed in a hospital medical center.

Results: The mean (standard deviation) of body-mass index was 22.8(2.7) for Group N, 22.6(2.6) for Group M, and 23.5(2.4) for Group S, respectively. Women in Group S displayed statistically significantly higher levels of leptin, fasting glucose, and insulin, and lower levels of adiponectin than those in Groups M and N. Multivariate linear regression analysis revealed that hot-flash severity was significantly associated with higher leptin levels, lower adiponectin levels, and higher leptin-to-adiponectin ratio. Univariate linear regression analysis revealed that hot-flash severity was strongly associated with a higher HOMA-IR index (% difference, 58.03%; 95% confidence interval, 31.00-90.64; p < 0.001). The association between hot flashes and HOMA-IR index was attenuated after adjusting for leptin or adiponectin and was no longer significant after simultaneously adjusting for leptin and adiponectin.

Conclusion: The present study provides evidence that hot flashes are associated with insulin resistance in postmenopausal women. It further suggests that hot flash association with insulin resistance is dependent on the combination of leptin and adiponectin variables.

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adiponectin / blood*
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes / blood*
  • Hot Flashes / metabolism*
  • Hot Flashes / pathology
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / blood*
  • Postmenopause / metabolism*


  • Adiponectin
  • Leptin

Grant support

This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (MOST 105-2314-B-371-004) to HMW, and the Changhua Christian Hospital Research Foundation, Taiwan (100-CCH-IRP-50, 105-CCH-IRP-092, and 105-CCH-PRJ-006) to HMW. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.