High-molecular-weight adiponectin is inversely associated with sympathetic activity in polycystic ovary syndrome

Alongside insulin resistance, increased sympathetic activity modulates high-molecular-weight adiponectin, a potential mechanistic biomarker of metabolic and re- productive features, in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

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Volume 109, Issue 3, Pages 532–539


Soulmaz Shorakae, M.D., Sally K. Abell, M.B.B.S., Danielle S. Hiam, B.Ex.S.S.(Hons), Elisabeth A. Lambert, Ph.D., Nina Eikelis, Ph.D., Eveline Jona, M.D., Carolina Ika Sari, B.S., Nigel K. Stepto, Ph.D., Gavin W. Lambert, Ph.D., Barbora de Courten, Ph.D., Helena J. Teede, Ph.D.



To examine the role of high-molecular-weight (HMW) adiponectin and its relationship to sympathetic activity in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).


Cross sectional study using biobanked samples.


Not applicable.


Premenopausal women with PCOS (n = 46, Rotterdam diagnostic criteria) and without PCOS (n = 22).



Main Outcome Measure(s)

High-molecular-weight adiponectin levels with secondary outcomes of sympathetic activity and leptin levels.


The high-molecular-weight adiponectin level was lower in women with PCOS (median 2.2 [interquartile range (IQR)2.3] μg/mL) than in controls (median 3 [IQR2.5] μg/mL) (age and BMI adjusted), and it correlated inversely with the values measured for homeostatic model of assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), fasting insulin, triglycerides, and free androgen index and positively with sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in all participants and in the PCOS group. In the PCOS group, sympathetic activity (burst frequency) was statistically significantly higher than in controls (median 26 [IQR11] vs. median 22 [IQR14], respectively) and correlated inversely with HMW adiponectin (r = −0.230). The leptin levels were similar between the women with PCOS and controls and did not statistically significantly correlate with HMW adiponectin or sympathetic activity. On multiple regression analysis, burst frequency and SHBG explained 40% of the HMW adiponectin variability (B = −0.7; 95% CI −1.2 to −0.2; and B = 0.01; 95% CI 0.004–0.01) in PCOS.


Alongside insulin resistance, increased sympathetic activity is associated with and may modulate HMW adiponectin levels in women with PCOS.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.