Background: Obesity in youth is associated with increased risk of metabolic disorders. Adipose tissue hormones are involved in body-weight regulation. Among these, apelin is recognized as an insulin-sensitizer adipokine. Data on apelin levels in obese children and its relation to insulin-sensitivity are limited. Objective: We aimed to evaluate apelin levels in relation to obesity and insulin sensitivity in a large cohort of overweight/obese children and adolescents. Furthermore, these youths were reevaluated after a median 6.5 years of follow-up, thus allowing assessing changes in apelin levels in relation to increasing age and weight changes. Methods: Clinical data in 909 children and adolescents were collected between 2007 and 2010. Two hundred and one were reexamined at a median 6.5 years of follow-up. All subjects at baseline and at follow-up underwent an OGTT. Apelin levels were measured on sera by ELISA method. Results: At baseline, lower apelin levels were associated with increasing age and puberty (Tanner ≥II 0.67 ± 0.96 ng/mL vs. Tanner I 0.89 ± 1.13 ng/mL, p < .002), but not with body-weight. At follow-up, apelin levels in the 201 subjects reexamined were significantly lower than at baseline (0.45 ± 0.77 ng/mL at follow-up, 0.68 ± 0.95 ng/mL baseline, p < .001), confirming the effects of age and puberty. Body-weight did not affect apelin levels. Multiple regression analysis confirmed that sex and puberty were associated with lower apelin levels, independently from age and insulin-sensitivity. Conclusions: Apelin levels decrease significantly with pubertal development, whilst body-weight in children and adolescents did not determine changes in apelin. Reduced levels of apelin in children and adolescents may therefore represent a necessary response to maintain the “physiological” insulin resistance of puberty. Abbreviations: ALT: Alanine aminotransferase; AST: Aspartate aminotransferase; G: glucose; BMI: Body mass index; DBP: Diastolic blood pressure; ELISA: enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; HDL-C: High-density lipoprotein-cholesterol; HOMA-B: Homeostatic model assessment for beta-cell function; HOMA-IR: Homeostatic model assessment of insulin-resistance; INS: Insulin; ISI: insulin-sensitivity index; LDL-C: Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol; NW: normal weight; OB: obese; OGTT: oral glucose tolerance test; OW: overweight; SBP: Systolic blood pressure; TC: Total cholesterol; TGs: Triglycerides.
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