Altered adipokines in obese adolescents: A cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis across the spectrum of glycemia

Risa M. Wolf, Andrew E. Jaffe, Susana Rodriguez, Xia Lei, Dylan C. Sarver, Alexander T. Straub, G. William Wong, Sheela N. Magge

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Obesity and type 2 diabetes are rapidly increasing in the adolescent population. We sought to determine whether adipokines, specifically leptin, C1q/TNF-related proteins 1 (CTRP1) and CTRP9, and the hepatokine fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), are associated with obesity and hyperglycemia in a cohort of lean and obese adolescents, across the spectrum of glycemia. In an observational, longitudinal study of lean and obese adolescents, we measured fasting laboratory tests, oral glucose tolerance tests, and adipokines including leptin, CTRP1, CTRP9, and FGF21. Participants completed baseline and 2-year follow-up study visits and were categorized as lean (LC, lean control; n = 30), obese normoglycemic (ONG; n = 61), and obese hyperglycemic (OHG; n = 31) adolescents at baseline and lean (n = 8), ONG (n = 18), and OHG (n = 4) at follow-up. Groups were compared using ANOVA and regression analysis, and linear mixed effects modeling was used to test for differences in adipokine levels across baseline and follow-up visits. Results showed that at baseline, leptin was higher in all obese groups (P < 0.001) compared with LC. FGF21 was higher in OHG participants compared with LC (P < 0.001) and ONG (P < 0.001) and positively associated with fasting glucose (P < 0.001), fasting insulin (P < 0.001), Homeostasis Model Assessment-Insulin Resistance Index (HOMA-IR; P < 0.001), and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c; P = 0.01). CTRP1 was higher in OHG compared with ONG (P = 0.03). CTRP9 was not associated with obesity or hyperglycemia in this pediatric cohort. At 2 years, leptin decreased in ONG (P = 0.003) and FGF21 increased in OHG (P = 0.02), relative to lean controls. Altered adipokine levels are associated with the inflammatory milieu in obese youth with and without hyperglycemia. In adolescence, the novel adipokine CTRP1 was elevated with hyperglycemia, whereas CTRP9 was unchanged in this cohort. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Leptin is higher in obese adolescents and FGF21 is higher in obese hyperglycemic adolescents. The novel adipokine CTRP1 is higher in obese hyperglycemic adolescents, whereas CTRP9 was unchanged in this adolescent cohort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1044-E1052
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Adipokines
  • Adolescents
  • Insulin resistance
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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