Circulating Adiponectin Is Inversely Associated with Risk of Thyroid Cancer

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Circulating adiponectin has been inversely associated with risk for several malignancies. Its association with thyroid cancer has not yet been evaluated.


We measured circulating adiponectin levels in 175 thyroid carcinoma patients and 107 controls. We also examined the expression of adiponectin receptors (AdipoR1 and AdipoR2) using immunohistochemistry in 82 thyroid carcinoma tissues and using RT-qPCR in 40 human thyroid carcinoma tissues (32 papillary, six follicular/Hurthle, one anaplastic, one medullary), four normal human thyroid tissue specimens, and the BHP7 and SW579 thyroid cancer cell lines. We then utilized these thyroid cancer cell lines to investigate whether adiponectin could directly regulate cell cycle or apoptosis.


Thyroid cancer patients had lower circulating adiponectin levels than controls (17.00 ± 6.32 vs. 19.26 ± 6.28 μg/ml; P < 0.001). Subjects in the highest tertile of circulating adiponectin concentrations had significantly lower odds of developing any type of thyroid carcinoma (odds ratio = 0.29; 95% confidence interval, 0.16–0.55), or papillary thyroid carcinoma (odds ratio = 0.27; 95% confidence interval, 0.14–0.55), before and after adjustment for potential confounders. Both thyroid carcinoma cell lines and tissues expressed AdipoR1 and AdipoR2. Recombinant adiponectin did not exert a clinically significant direct effect on cell cycle, proliferation, or apoptosis in thyroid cancer cell lines in vitro.


Circulating adiponectin is independently and inversely associated with the risk of thyroid cancer. Human thyroid carcinomas and cell lines express adiponectin receptors. However, in the absence of a major direct effect of adiponectin on thyroid cancer cell lines in vitro, the negative association observed herein may be attributed to the metabolic effects of adiponectin.

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