Total and high molecular weight adiponectin and ethnic-specific differences in adiposity and insulin resistance: a cross-sectional study Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Ethnic-specific differences in insulin resistance (IR) are well described but the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Adiponectin is an insulin sensitizing adipocytokine that circulates as multiple isoforms, with high molecular weight (HMW) adiponectin associated with greatest insulin sensitivity. The objective of this study is to determine if plasma total and HMW adiponectin concentrations underlie ethnic-specific differences in IR. METHODS: Healthy Canadian Aboriginal, Chinese, European, and South Asian adults (N = 634) were assessed for sociodemographics; lifestyle; fasting plasma insulin, glucose, and total and HMW adiponectin; and adiposity measures [BMI, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, percent body fat, and subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue (quantified by computed tomography)]. The homeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) assessed IR. RESULTS: South Asians had the greatest HOMA-IR, followed by Aboriginals, Chinese, and Europeans (P < 0.001). Plasma total and HMW adiponectin concentrations were lower in Chinese and South Asians than Aboriginal and Europeans (P < 0.05). Total and HMW adiponectin were inversely associated with HOMA-IR (P < 0.001). Ethnicity modified the relationship between HMW adiponectin and HOMA-IR with stronger effects observed in Aboriginals (P = 0.001), Chinese (P = 0.002), and South Asians (P = 0.040) compared to Europeans. This was not observed for total adiponectin (P = 0.431). At mean total adiponectin concentrations South Asians had higher HOMA-IR than Europeans (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: For each given decrease in HMW adiponectin concentrations a greater increase in HOMA-IR is observed in Aboriginals, Chinese, and South Asians than Europeans. Ethnic-specific differences in HMW adiponectin may account for differences in IR.


  • Sulistyoningrum, Dian C
  • Gasevic, Danijela
  • Lear, Scott A
  • Ho, Joe
  • Mente, Andrew
  • Devlin, Angela M

publication date

  • December 2013

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