Ethnic Variation in Adiponectin and Leptin Levels and Their Association With Adiposity and Insulin Resistance
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OBJECTIVE: To investigate ethnic differences in adiponectin and leptin concentration and to determine whether these adipokines and a high-glycemic index diet account for ethnic variation in insulin resistance. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: In 1,176 South Asian, Chinese, Aboriginal, and European Canadians, fasting blood samples were drawn, and clinical history and dietary habits including glycemic index/glycemic load were recorded using standardized questionnaires. Insulin resistance was defined using homeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). RESULTS: Adiponectin concentrations were significantly higher in Europeans (adjusted mean 12.94 [95% CI 2.27-13.64]) and Aboriginal people (11.87 [11.19-12.59]) than in South Asians (9.35 [8.82-9.92]) and Chinese (8.52 [8.03-9.03]) (overall P < 0.001). Serum leptin was significantly higher in South Asians (11.82 [10.72-13.04]) and Aboriginal people (11.13 [10.13-12.23]) than in Europeans (9.21 [8.38-10.12]) and Chinese (8.25 [7.48-9.10]). BMI and waist circumference were inversely associated with adiponectin in every group except the South Asians (P < 0.001 for interaction). Adiponectin was inversely and leptin was positively associated with HOMA-IR (P < 0.001). The increase in HOMA-IR for each given decrease in adiponectin was larger among South Asians (P = 0.01) and Aboriginal people (P < 0.001) than among Europeans. A high glycemic index was associated with a larger decrease in adiponectin among South Asians (P = 0.03) and Aboriginal people (P < 0.001) and a larger increase in HOMA-IR among South Asians (P < 0.05) relative to that in other groups. CONCLUSIONS: South Asians have the least favorable adipokine profile and, like the Aboriginal people, display a greater increase in insulin resistance with decreasing levels of adiponectin. Differences in adipokines and responses to glycemic foods parallel the ethnic differences in insulin resistance.
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