Adiponectin levels, glucose regulation, and your genes

Adiponectin, a hormone secreted from adipose (fat) tissue, is involved in glucose regulation.  Studies show that low levels of adiponectin correlate with insulin resistance and diabetes.  Interestingly, although adiponectin is secreted from adipose tissue, levels of the hormone are generally lower in obese individuals.  ( I’m not sure that it is clear as to which comes first — do low adiponectin levels cause obesity, or does obesity lower adiponectin levels?)  Genetics are also involved, and a couple of polymorphisms in the  ADIPOQ gene relate to adiponectin levels.  Additionally, studies show that adiponectin levels are lower in those with higher weight, BMI, and insulin resistance as well as men, in general.  [ref]  Leptin levels are also correlated with adiponectin levels[ref], as is Alzheimer’s Disease. [ref]

From a 2004  article in Diabetes Care:

Adiponectin has been postulated to play an important role in the modulation of glucose and lipid metabolism in insulin-sensitive tissues in both humans and animals. Decreased circulating adiponectin levels have been demonstrated in genetic and diet-induced murine models of obesity (11), as well as in diet-induced forms of human obesity (12). Low adiponectin levels have also been strongly implicated in the development of insulin resistance in mouse models of both obesity and lipoatrophy (11). In humans, plasma levels of adiponectin are significantly lower in insulin-resistant states including type 2 diabetes (13) and can be increased upon administration of the insulin-sensitizing thiazolidinedione (TZD) class of compounds (14–17). Plasma adiponectin levels in diabetic subjects with coronary artery disease (CAD) are lower than in diabetic patients without CAD, suggesting that adiponectin may have anti-atherogenic properties (18). In studies done on human aortic endothelial cells, adiponectin has been shown to dose-dependently decrease the surface expression of vascular adhesion molecules known to modulate endothelial inflammatory responses (19). It also inhibits proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (20) and concentrates within the vascular intima of catheter-injured vessels (21). In clinical studies, low adiponectin levels have been associated with an atherogenic lipid profile (18,22). The association of low adiponectin levels with obesity, insulin resistance, CAD, and dyslipidemia indicates that this novel protein may be an important new marker of the metabolic syndrome.

ADIPOQ polymorphisms

There are several polymorphisms that indicate a person’s genetic propensity towards adiponectin levels. Genes are not the only determinant of hormone levels, but this can give you a starting point if you are interested in your adiponectin level.  You will find quite a few studies on ADIPOQ in  Keep in mind that there may be a racial or ethnic component to adiponectin levels as well.

Rs266729 (also known as -11377C>G)  tied to childhood obesity.  In the orientation 23andMe uses to report the data, the C/C and C/G genotypes were associated with childhood obesity (OR -= 2.08).  [ref]  This variant is also associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease.[ref]

Check your 23andMe results for rs266729:

  • C/C: increased risk of childhood obesity
  • C/G:  increased risk of childhood obesity
  • G/G: normal


Rs10937273 (G allele) is associated with lower adiponectin levels in a recent study of Japanese men.  [ref]  That same study also showed that rs1648707 (C allele ) was associated with fasting insulin and lower adiponectin levels in women.  Another study also linked rs10937273 to the risk of earlier onset of type 2 diabetes.  [ref]

Check your 23andMe results for rs10937273:

  • A/A: normal
  • G/G: lower adiponectin levels [ref]


Rs1501299 and rs2241766 have both been extensively looked at in terms of adiponectin levels.  Below is a chart to show the interaction between these two polymorphisms.  [ref]  This comes from a 2008 study that looked at the breast cancer risk of women in New York City.  The study finds that those with a low adiponectin signaling status had a higher risk of breast cancer than those with a high signaling status. The full study is free to read and has some good background information in the introduction. [ref]

rs1501299 rs2241766  Adiponectin signalling status
G/G T/T low
G/T T/T low
G/G G/T low
T/T T/T intermediate
G/T G/T intermediate
G/G G/G intermediate
G/T G/G high
T/T G/G high
T/T G/T high


Increasing Adiponectin Levels

  • Drink your coffee!  A 2011 study with Japanese males found that coffee, but not green tea, increased adiponectin levels.
  • Astaxanthin, in a placebo-controlled study, was found to increase adiponectin levels.
  • Berberine, a traditional Chinese medicine found in the bark and roots of several plants, has been found to increase glucose sensitivity in diabetics.  [ref]  One way that berberine works is to activate AMPK which boosts a type of adiponectin.
  • A very small study showed that yoga for 16 weeks raised adiponectin levels, possibly due to weight loss.

Author Information:   Debbie Moon
Debbie Moon is the founder of Genetic Lifehacks. She holds a Master of Science in Biological Sciences from Clemson University and an undergraduate degree in engineering. Debbie is a science communicator who is passionate about explaining evidence-based health information. Her goal with Genetic Lifehacks is to bridge the gap between the research hidden in scientific journals and everyone's ability to use that information. To contact Debbie, visit the contact page.