Strong evidence of sexual dimorphic effect of adiposity excess on insulin sensitivity

Antonella Marucci, Claudia Menzaghi, Massimilano Copetti, Federica Vinciguerra, Roberto Baratta, Lucia Salvemini, Eleonora Morini, Lucia Frittitta, Rosa Di Paola, Vincenzo Trischitta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aims: Our aims were to investigate in several large samples, with a wide range of adiposity, whether: (1) the effect of BMI on insulin sensitivity is different between sexes; (2) also waist circumference plays a sex-specific role on insulin sensitivity; and (3) serum adiponectin and resistin are mediators of such sex-dimorphic effect. Methods: Samples used were: Gargano study 1 (GS1), GS2 and Catania study (CS) comprising 3274 individuals. Adiponectin and resistin were measured by ELISA. Associations between variables were tested by linear models. Results: In all samples, relationship between BMI and HOMAIR was steeper in males than in females (BMI-by-sex interaction p = 0.04–0.0007). No interaction was observed on serum adiponectin and resistin (p = 0.40–059), which are therefore unlikely to mediate the sex-dimorphic effect of BMI on insulin resistance. Relationship between waist circumference and HOMAIR was similar between sexes in GS1 and GS2 but not in CS (waist-by-sex interaction p = 0.01), comprising much heavier individuals. This suggests that a sex-dimorphic effect of abdominal adiposity on insulin resistance is observable only in the context of high BMI. Conclusions: Our findings represent a proof of concept that BMI and insulin sensitivity are associated in a sex-specific manner. This may explain why females are protected from diabetes and cardiovascular disease, compared to males of similar BMI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)991-998
Number of pages8
JournalActa Diabetologica
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 22 2015


  • BMI
  • Insulin resistance
  • Sexual dimorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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