Genetic determinants of metabolic biomarkers and their associations with cardiometabolic traits in Hispanic/Latino adolescents

Pediatr Res. 2022 Aug;92(2):563-571. doi: 10.1038/s41390-021-01729-7. Epub 2021 Oct 13.


Background: Metabolic regulation plays a significant role in energy homeostasis, and adolescence is a crucial life stage for the development of cardiometabolic disease (CMD). This study aims to investigate the genetic determinants of metabolic biomarkers-adiponectin, leptin, ghrelin, and orexin-and their associations with CMD risk factors.

Methods: We characterized the genetic determinants of the biomarkers among Hispanic/Latino adolescents of the Santiago Longitudinal Study (SLS) and identified the cumulative effects of genetic variants on adiponectin and leptin using biomarker polygenic risk scores (PRS). We further investigated the direct and indirect effect of the biomarker PRS on downstream body fat percent (BF%) and glycemic traits using structural equation modeling.

Results: We identified putatively novel genetic variants associated with the metabolic biomarkers. A substantial amount of biomarker variance was explained by SLS-specific PRS, and the prediction was improved by including the putatively novel loci. Fasting blood insulin and insulin resistance were associated with PRS for adiponectin, leptin, and ghrelin, and BF% was associated with PRS for adiponectin and leptin. We found evidence of substantial mediation of these associations by the biomarker levels.

Conclusions: The genetic underpinnings of metabolic biomarkers can affect the early development of CMD, partly mediated by the biomarkers.

Impact: This study characterized the genetic underpinnings of four metabolic hormones and investigated their potential influence on adiposity and insulin biology among Hispanic/Latino adolescents. Fasting blood insulin and insulin resistance were associated with polygenic risk score (PRS) for adiponectin, leptin, and ghrelin, with evidence of some degree of mediation by the biomarker levels. Body fat percent (BF%) was also associated with PRS for adiponectin and leptin. This provides important insight on biological mechanisms underlying early metabolic dysfunction and reveals candidates for prevention efforts. Our findings also highlight the importance of ancestrally diverse populations to facilitate valid studies of the genetic architecture of metabolic biomarker levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / genetics
  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / genetics
  • Ghrelin / genetics
  • Hispanic or Latino / genetics
  • Humans
  • Insulin
  • Insulin Resistance* / genetics
  • Leptin
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Orexins


  • Adiponectin
  • Biomarkers
  • Ghrelin
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Orexins