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Keywords:

  • ALSPAC;
  • pQCT;
  • DXA;
  • cortical thickness

Abstract

Circulating adiponectin levels are inversely related to bone mineral density (BMD) in humans and animal models. Previous studies in humans have been confined largely to adult populations, and whether adiponectin influences bone mass accrual in childhood is unclear. We examined this question using the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort by investigating relationships between circulating adiponectin levels at a mean age of 9.9 years, indices of bone mass as measured by total-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) at ages 9.9 and 15.5 years, and cortical bone parameters as measured by peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) of the midtibia at age 15.5 years. A total of 4927 children were included at age 9.9 years, of whom 97% and 90% of boys and girls, respectively, were in prepuberty or early puberty, as defined by Tanner stage 1–2. A total of 2754 children were included at age 15.5 years, of whom 95% and 97% of boys and girls, respectively, were in late puberty, as defined by Tanner stage 4–5. Circulating adiponectin was found to be related to fat mass, lean mass, and, to a lesser extent, height, so analyses were adjusted for these three variables to identify possible independent effects of adiponectin on bone development. Adiponectin was inversely related to total-body-less-head bone mineral content (BMC; −3.0%), bone area (BA; −1.8%), BMC divided by BA (BMD; −4.8%), and BMC adjusted for BA by linear regression (aBMC; −5.6%), as measured at age 9.9 years (coefficients show change per doubling in adiponectin concentration, p < .001). Consistent with these results, inverse associations also were seen between adiponectin and cortical BMC (−4.8%) and cortical bone area (−4.7%), as measured by tibial pQCT at age 15.5 years (p < .001). Further pQCT results suggested that this inverse association of adiponectin with skeletal development predominantly involved a negative association with endosteal relative to periosteal expansion, as reflected by cortical thickness (−6.0%, p < .001). We conclude that, independent of fat mass, lean mass, and height, adiponectin is associated with lower bone mass in childhood predominantly owing to an influence on relative endosteal expansion. Since these associations were observed before and after puberty, this suggests that setting of adiponectin levels in midchildhood has the potential to exert long-term effects on bone strength and fracture risk. © 2010 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.