Adiponectin levels, food choices, and genetics

Adiponectin, discovered in the 1990s, is a hormone secreted by adipose (fat) tissue. As an anti-inflammatory protein, it protects against the effects of low-grade inflammation associated with obesity.

Although production occurs in adipose tissue, those with more fat tissue usually have lower adiponectin levels. Lower adiponectin levels (and thus high inflammation) have links to chronic issues associated with obesity.[ref]

Additionally, low levels of adiponectin have links to insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.[ref]

ADIPOQ gene: responsible for adiponectin creation

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Some polymorphisms increase adiponectin levels, leading to a lower risk of insulin resistance, and some polymorphisms decrease adiponectin levels which leads to a higher risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. Diet and ethnicity also seem to play a role in how these polymorphisms affect a person.

Check your genetic data for rs17300539 (23andMe v4, v5):

  • T allele: lower weight, BMI, and higher adiponectin levels; benefits from a monounsaturated fat diet and MUFA > 13% cuts risk of obesity in half[ref][ref]

Members: Your genotype for rs17300539 is .

Check your genetic data for rs1501299 (23andMe v4, v5):

  • T:  allele higher adiponectin levels in some populations[ref] and lower adiponectin levels in other populations[ref][ref] This may be related to the amount of fiber in the diet (see below), increased adiponectin signaling, protective against heart disease.[ref]
  • G/G: lower adiponectin levels in most populations, higher adiponectin levels compared to T carriers when eating a low fiber diet[ref], increased risk of endometrial cancer[ref] breast cancer, which is associated with low adiponectin signaling[ref]

Members: Your genotype for rs1501299 is .

Check your genetic data for rs266729 (23andMe v4, v5):

  • C/C:  lower adiponectin levels[ref][ref][ref]
  • G/G: caucasian men with G/G (23andMe orientation, more common alleles), switching from a saturated fat-rich diet to either a carbohydrate-rich diet or a monounsaturated fat-rich diet caused plasma glucose concentrations to decrease.[ref]

Members: Your genotype for rs266729 is .

Check your genetic data for rs2241766 (23andMe v4, v5):

  • G allele: associated with a higher risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Asian populations[ref]

Members: Your genotype for rs2241766 is .

Check your genetic data for rs17366568 (23andMe v4, v5):

  • G allele: associated with lower serum adiponectin levels in white women but not black women[ref]

Members: Your genotype for rs17366568 is .


What works and doesn’t work:

Increasing adiponectin levels seems like a good idea since low levels of adiponectin are a risk factor for heart disease. But it isn’t absolutely clear that manipulating adiponectin levels will cause weight loss.

  • Orlistat (Alli) increases adiponectin levels[ref]
  • Both blueberry juice and mulberry juice increased adiponectin levels (in mice)[ref]
  • In mice, Platycodon grandiflorus root extract (Korean medicinal food) improved insulin sensitivity to activation of PPARG which upregulates adiponectin[ref]

Here are a few tested things not found not to increase adiponectin levels:

  • Fish oil doesn’t seem to have much effect on adiponectin levels.
  • Green tea extract doesn’t affect adiponectin levels[ref]

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