Adiponectin and cardiovascular risk. From pathophysiology to clinic: Focus on children and adolescents

Antonina Orlando, Elisa Nava, Marco Giussani, Simonetta Genovesi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Adiponectin (Ad) is a cytokine produced by adipocytes that acts on specific receptors of several tissues through autocrine, paracrine, and endocrine signaling mechanisms. Ad is involved in the regulation of cell survival, cell growth, and apoptosis. Furthermore, Ad plays an important pathophysiological role in metabolic activities by acting on peripheral tissues involved in glucose and lipid metabolism such as skeletal muscle, and the liver. Adiponectin has anti-inflammatory, anti-atherogenic, and insulin-sensitizing effects. For this reason, low levels of Ad are associated with the development of cardiovascular complications of obesity in adulthood. Numerous studies have shown that, even in children and adolescents, Ad is associated with risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. In obese children, reduced levels of Ad have been reported and Ad plasma levels are inversely related with abdominal obesity. Moreover, lower Ad concentrations are associated with the development of metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and hypertension in pediatric subjects. In addition to a higher prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors, plasma values of Ad are also inversely associated with early organ damage, such as an increase in carotid intima-media thickness. It has been suggested that low Ad levels in childhood might predict the development of atherosclerosis in adulthood, suggesting the possibility of using Ad to stratify cardiovascular risk in obese children. Some evidence suggests that lifestyle modification may increase Ad plasma levels. The aim of this review is to summarize the evidence on the relationship between Ad, obesity, metabolic alterations and hypertension in children and adolescents, and to address the possibility that Ad represents an early marker of cardiovascular risk in pediatric subjects. Furthermore, the effects of non-pharmacological treatment (weight loss and physical activity) on Ad levels are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3228
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Adiponectin
  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Children
  • Hypertension
  • Insulin resistance
  • Metabolic syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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