Race-ethnic differences in adipokine levels: The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN)

Unab I. Khan, Dan Wang, Maryfran R. Sowers, Peter Mancuso, Susan A. Everson-Rose, Philipp E. Scherer, Rachel P. Wildman

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55 Scopus citations


Differences in adipose tissue secretory profile, as measured by adipokine levels, may play a role in race-ethnic disparities in cardiovascular disease (CVD). We examined race-ethnic differences in adipokine levels in a group of mid-life Caucasian, African American (AA), Chinese and Japanese women, after accounting for adiposity. Data on 1876 women from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation were analyzed. In multivariable adjustment, including total fat mass, differences in total and high molecular weight (HMW) adiponectin, leptin and soluble leptin receptor (sOB-R) levels were examined. Despite intermediate levels of adiposity, Caucasian women had higher levels of both total and HMW adiponectin, when compared to both AA and Chinese and Japanese women. After multivariable adjustment, compared to Caucasian women, AA women had significantly lower total (β: -3.40; 95% CI: -4.29, -2.52; P < .001) and HMW adiponectin (β: -0.53; 95% CI: -0.64, -0.43; P < .001) levels, higher leptin levels (β: 3.26; 95% CI: 1.36, 5.16; P < .001) and lower sOB-R levels (β: -0.07; 95% CI: -0.11, -0.03; P < .001). Compared to Caucasian women, both Chinese and Japanese women had lower total (Chinese: β: -5.50; 95% CI: -7.07, -3.93; P < .001; Japanese: β: -5.48; 95% CI: -6.95, -4.02; P < .001) and HMW adiponectin (Chinese: β: -0.57; 95% CI: -0.75, -0.38; P < .001; Japanese: β: -0.61; 95% CI: -0.78, -0.44; P < .001) levels and lower sOB-R levels (Chinese: β: -0.13; 95% CI: -0.20, -0.06; P < .001; Japanese: β: -0.09; 95% CI: -0.15, -0.02; P = .008). Significant race-ethnic differences exist in circulating adipokines, even after accounting for adiposity. Further research is needed to explicitly determine if such differences contribute to known racial differences in CVD risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1261-1269
Number of pages9
JournalMetabolism: clinical and experimental
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) has grant support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), DHHS, through the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) and the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH) (Grants NR004061 ; AG012505 , AG012535 , AG012531 , AG012539 , AG012546 , AG012553 , AG012554 , AG012495 ). The adipokine data utilized in this report were generated through NIH-National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) grant HL086858 (to Dr. Wildman) Dr. Everson-Rose was supported by HL091290 , and by the Program in Health Disparities Research and the Applied Clinical Research Program at the University of Minnesota . Dr. Khan was supported by the NHLBI Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Award 1K23HL105790-01 . The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIA, NINR, ORWH or the NIH.


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