Beneficial Effects of Adiponectin on Glucose and Lipid Metabolism and Atherosclerotic Progression: Mechanisms and Perspectives

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Mar 8;20(5):1190. doi: 10.3390/ijms20051190.


Circulating adiponectin concentrations are reduced in obese individuals, and this reduction has been proposed to have a crucial role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases associated with obesity and the metabolic syndrome. We focus on the effects of adiponectin on glucose and lipid metabolism and on the molecular anti-atherosclerotic properties of adiponectin and also discuss the factors that increase the circulating levels of adiponectin. Adiponectin reduces inflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress, which leads to an improvement of insulin resistance. Adiponectin-induced improvement of insulin resistance and adiponectin itself reduce hepatic glucose production and increase the utilization of glucose and fatty acids by skeletal muscles, lowering blood glucose levels. Adiponectin has also β cell protective effects and may prevent the development of diabetes. Adiponectin concentration has been found to be correlated with lipoprotein metabolism; especially, it is associated with the metabolism of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and triglyceride (TG). Adiponectin appears to increase HDL and decrease TG. Adiponectin increases ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 and lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and decreases hepatic lipase, which may elevate HDL. Increased LPL mass/activity and very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) receptor and reduced apo-CIII may increase VLDL catabolism and result in the reduction of serum TG. Further, adiponectin has various molecular anti-atherosclerotic properties, such as reduction of scavenger receptors in macrophages and increase of cholesterol efflux. These findings suggest that high levels of circulating adiponectin can protect against atherosclerosis. Weight loss, exercise, nutritional factors, anti-diabetic drugs, lipid-lowering drugs, and anti-hypertensive drugs have been associated with an increase of serum adiponectin level.

Keywords: adiponectin; atherosclerosis; cholesterol efflux; diabetes; inflammation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / blood
  • Adiponectin / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / blood
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism*
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress


  • Adiponectin
  • Glucose