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Research Note: Adiponectin

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Adipose tissue is an endocrine organ that secretes cytokines and proteins called adipokines (eg, leptin, adiponectin). Leptin, which is released from adipocytes as fat levels rise, targets the hypothalamus to reduce food intake and increase energy expenditure. Adiponectin is an anti-inflammatory hormone that, in humans, has a declining plasma concentration with increased body fat mass. In humans, the high-molecular–weight (HMW) form of adiponectin is especially associated with insulin sensitivity and is an early marker of risk for Type II diabetes mellitus. Research on adiponectin in cats is limited, and correlation with body fat is unclear. 

This study was the first to evaluate the relationship of HMW adiponectin to body fat mass, insulin sensitivity, cholesterol, and leptin in cats gaining and losing weight. Additionally, it introduced a method of size-exclusion gel chromatography combined with ELISA to measure relative amounts of HMW, middle-molecular–weight, and low-molecular–weight adiponectin. Changes in adiponectin messenger RNA (mRNA) expression in subcutaneous adipose tissue were compared with circulating total adiponectin concentrations. No correlations were identified between total serum adiponectin and subcutaneous adipose mRNA expression, fat, or insulin sensitivity measures. HMW forms of adiponectin were predominant at an average of 82%, although cats had lower circulating concentrations as compared with humans. There were weak negative correlations between HMW adiponectin and body fat mass. 

Because of the large variations in adiponectin concentration between cats in this study, a larger study population may help elucidate the relationship between feline adiponectin, insulin sensitivity, and diabetes.


For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

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