Leptin but not adiponectin is related to type 2 diabetes mellitus in obese adolescents

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Adipokines have been suggested to be involved in the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). However, studies in humans are controversial and analyzes at the onset of disease are scarce.


We compared adiponectin and leptin levels between 74 predominately Caucasian adolescents with T2DM and 74 body mass index (BMI)-, age-, and gender-matched controls without T2DM. Adiponectin and leptin were correlated to age, BMI, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), blood pressure, and lipids.


Adolescents with T2DM showed significant lower leptin levels as compared with controls (18 ± 12 vs. 37 ± 23 ng/mL, p < 0.001), whereas the adiponectin levels did not differ between the adolescents with and without T2DM (5.0 ± 2.5 vs. 4.9 ± 2.5 μg/mL, p = 0.833). The associations between adiponectin and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (r = 0.42), systolic (r = −0.15), and diastolic blood pressure (r = −0.20) were stronger as the associations of leptin to these parameters (all r < 0.07). In multiple linear regression analysis, leptin was significantly and positively associated with BMI [β-coefficient: 1.3 (95% confidence interval (95% CI): ±0.5), p < 0.001] and female sex [β-coefficient: 9.7 (95% CI: ±6.7), p = 0.005], and negatively with age [β-coefficient: −2.3 (95% CI: ±2.1), p < 0.001] and HbA1c [β-coefficient −3.1 (95% CI: ±2.1), p = 0.011]. Adiponectin was not significantly associated with BMI, HbA1c, age, or gender in multiple linear regression analysis.


Because adiponectin levels did not differ between obese adolescents with and without T2DM, hypoadiponectinemia as observed in obesity seems not to be involved in the genesis of T2DM. The relative hypoleptinemia in obese adolescents with T2DM as compared with obese adolescents without T2DM may contribute to the development of T2DM. Future longitudinal studies in humans are necessary to prove this hypothesis.

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