Research Blog

May 3, 2022

Biomarkers of Blood Glucose Regulation: Adiponectin

Optimal Takeaways

Adiponectin is a beneficial hormone that decreases inflammation and oxidative stress and increases insulin sensitivity. It promotes whole-body energy metabolism which can become impaired without sufficient adiponectin. Low levels are associated with metabolic syndrome and increased weight, waist circumference, triglycerides, insulin, and leptin.

Standard Range: 5 - 37 ug/mL

The ODX Range: 18 – 37 ug/mL

Low levels of adiponectin are associated with obesity, abdominal obesity (“apple shape”), diabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and smoking (Abdella 2018, Aleidi 2015, Bluher 2005). Low levels are also associated with excess accumulation of fat in the liver and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (Gatselis 2014).

High levels of adiponectin may be associated with significant loss of body weight, cachexia, and heart failure.


Adiponectin is a protein-based hormone secreted primarily by adipocytes but also produced by skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle, and endothelial cells. Adiponectin has beneficial anti-inflammatory, anti-atherogenic, insulin-sensitizing effects (Achari 2017).

It is produced in abundance by healthy adipose tissue but in low levels by inflamed fibrotic adipose tissue. Metabolically, adiponectin increases glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity, increases fatty acid utilization, decreases gluconeogenesis and lipogenesis, and decreases inflammation and oxidative stress (Straub 2019).

Adiponectin is found to improve insulin sensitivity by increasing fat oxidation and glucose uptake in skeletal muscle, and decreasing fat accumulation in muscle, liver, and other tissues. It promotes glucose uptake and fat storage in adipose tissue, which also contributes to increased insulin sensitivity (Stern 2016). Ultimately, adiponectin can optimize whole body energy metabolism as it targets the beta cells of the pancreas as well as kidney, liver, heart, and muscle tissue (Wang 2016).

Meta-analysis confirms that Individuals with metabolic syndrome have significantly lower adiponectin than those without metabolic syndrome, and that adiponectin can be used to identify metabolic syndrome. Cut-off values for the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome from a variety of studies ranged from 2.85-18 ug/mL (Liu 2018).

One study evaluated in the meta-analysis found that a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome was determined with a mean adiponectin of 14.57 ug/mL in men and 15.35 ug/mL in women. The mean adiponectin of individuals without metabolic syndrome was 17.48 in men and 19.47 in women. Researchers note that low adiponectin was significantly associated with elevations in BMI, waist circumference, triglycerides, fasting insulin, and leptin (Patel 2015).


Abdella, Nabila A, and Olusegun A Mojiminiyi. “Clinical Applications of Adiponectin Measurements in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Screening, Diagnosis, and Marker of Diabetes Control.” Disease markers vol. 2018 5187940. 5 Jul. 2018, doi:10.1155/2018/5187940

Achari, Arunkumar E, and Sushil K Jain. “Adiponectin, a Therapeutic Target for Obesity, Diabetes, and Endothelial Dysfunction.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 18,6 1321. 21 Jun. 2017, doi:10.3390/ijms18061321

Aleidi S, Issa A, Bustanji H, Khalil M, Bustanji Y. Adiponectin serum levels correlate with insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patients. Saudi Pharm J. 2015;23(3):250-256. doi:10.1016/j.jsps.2014.11.011

Bluher, M et al. “Association of interleukin-6, C-reactive protein, interleukin-10 and adiponectin plasma concentrations with measures of obesity, insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.” Experimental and clinical endocrinology & diabetes : official journal, German Society of Endocrinology [and] German Diabetes Association vol. 113,9 (2005): 534-7. doi:10.1055/s-2005-872851

Gatselis, Nikolaos K et al. “Adiponectin: a key playmaker adipocytokine in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.” Clinical and experimental medicine vol. 14,2 (2014): 121-31. doi:10.1007/s10238-012-0227-0

Liu, Zhengtao et al. “Meta-Analysis of Adiponectin as a Biomarker for the Detection of Metabolic Syndrome.” Frontiers in physiology vol. 9 1238. 19 Sep. 2018, doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.01238

Patel, Dharmik S., et al. "Leptin, adiponectin and its molar ratio as a biomarker in the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome." Indian J. Physiol. Pharmacol 59 (2015): 290-297.

Stern, Jennifer H et al. “Adiponectin, Leptin, and Fatty Acids in the Maintenance of Metabolic Homeostasis through Adipose Tissue Crosstalk.” Cell metabolism vol. 23,5 (2016): 770-84. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.04.011

Straub, Leon G., and Philipp E. Scherer. "Metabolic messengers: adiponectin." Nature Metabolism 1.3 (2019): 334-339.

Wang, Zhao V, and Philipp E Scherer. “Adiponectin, the past two decades.” Journal of molecular cell biology vol. 8,2 (2016): 93-100. doi:10.1093/jmcb/mjw011

Tag(s): Biomarkers

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