What Is Adiponectin?
You probably know what a hormone is and you’re probably familiar with quite a few of them – like, estrogen and testosterone, for example. But, have you heard of adiponectin? It’s a hormone that’s produced by fat cells. That’s right, fat cells!
You may have thought fat cells were just bothersome collections of fat that had no other function than to make your life miserable. Not true. As it turns out, adipose tissue (another name for a collection of fat cells) can actually be looked at as another endocrine organ, like the adrenal glands or the thyroid.
In fact, adiponectin is not the only hormone produced by adipose tissue. There are others, including leptin and resistin. But, for now, let’s focus on adiponectin.
Why Is Adiponectin So Critical?
Adiponectin is important because research is finding that it has a number of powerful effects on our metabolism.
- It helps insulin work better by sensitizing our cells to it, decreases the production of glucose and fat in the body and helps our muscles utilize glucose and fat more efficiently.
- Adiponectin can also protect our blood vessels in numerous ways, one of which is by helping to prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. This is a good thing, since the oxidation of LDL cholesterol is one of the primary factors involved in heart disease.
Given all of this data for the beneficial effects of adiponectin, it can be presumed that low levels might be associated with certain diseases. This is, in fact, the case.
- Low levels of adiponectin, called hypoadiponectinemia, are associated with a number of diseases including metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes and heart disease.
- Hypoadiponectinemia is actually associated with a 3.5x increased risk for metabolic syndrome, which is often a precursor to diabetes and heart disease.
Although it’s not common currently, labs are beginning to test for it and it will likely be a much more common test in the future. Keep watching this space for more!!