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Protein adiponectin appears protective against heart disease

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 20 Reduced blood concentrations of a protein called adiponectin appear to indicate a significant risk of cardiovascular disease in one of the first studies to focus on risk of the disorder among patients with diabetes mellitus type 1, previously known as juvenile diabetes. Recent studies suggest that adiponectin, a protein specific to fat tissue, is involved in obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Results of the study are published in the January issue of Diabetologia, a leading journal affiliated with the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

"Most studies looking at adiponectin concentrations have been in the non-diabetic population or in people with type 2 diabetes," said Trevor Orchard, M.D., professor of epidemiology, medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) and senior author of the study. "Given our previous work linking insulin resistance to heart disease in type 1 diabetes, we wanted to evaluate whether adiponectin levels in these individuals might be predictive of future cardiac events." Adiponectin has been closely linked with insulin resistance, a known risk factor for heart disease.

Adiponectin is one of the most abundant circulating proteins in human plasma, explained Dr. Orchard, who also is medical director of the nutrition lipid program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a clinic to which doctors refer patients with lipid metabolism disorders. "Adiponectin also seems to act as an anti-inflammatory molecule," he said.

Investigators found that for people with type 1 diabetes, decreased concentration of adiponectin was associated with increased risk for coronary artery disease (CAD). "Interestingly, this effect was independent of conventional risk factors such as smoking, cholesterol levels or body weight," said research associate Tina Costacou, Ph.D., the study's first author. "Remarkably, it also was a better predicter tha
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