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A novel biomarker of cardiometabolic pathology in schizophrenia?



Persons with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder (PwS) have high rates of cardiometabolic pathology that contributes to premature mortality. Adiponectin is a metabolic hormone affecting insulin sensitivity and inflammation, and is active in the brain. High-molecular weight (HMW) adiponectin is considered a more sensitive marker of metabolic dysfunction than total adiponectin, but has been poorly studied in schizophrenia.


This was a cross-sectional study of 100 PwS, age range 26-68 years (46 women), and 93 age- and sex-comparable non-psychiatric comparison (NC) subjects. Assessments included measures of psychopathology, physical health, cognitive function, and circulating biomarkers of metabolic dysfunction (HMW adiponectin, lipids, insulin resistance) and inflammation (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein or hs-CRP, Tumor Necrosis Factor-α, Interleukin-6, and Interleukin-10).


HMW adiponectin levels were lower in PwS compared to NCs. Lower HMW adiponectin levels were associated with higher body mass index (BMI), higher Framingham risk for coronary heart disease, higher number of metabolic syndrome criteria, greater insulin resistance, lower HDL cholesterol, and higher hs-CRP in both groups. Only in PwS, lower HMW adiponectin correlated with younger age. In the best-fit regression models of HMW adiponectin, lower levels were associated with lower HDL cholesterol and minority race/ethnicity in both groups; but with younger age, non-smoking, higher insulin resistance, and a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder only among PwS, and with male sex, better cognitive functioning, and higher hs-CRP levels in NCs only.


HMW adiponectin may be a promising biomarker of cardiometabolic health, especially among PwS. Adiponectin is a potential target for lifestyle and pharmacological interventions. Research on the possible role of HMW adiponectin in modifying cardiometabolic pathology in schizophrenia is needed.

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