Objective: Insulin resistance and obesity are common features of the polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4), a new fat-derived adipokine, has been described to be elevated in obesity and type 2 diabetes. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether serum RBP4 levels are correlated with metabolic parameters, indices of insulin resistance, and endocrine variables in German PCOS women.
Design: We assessed the correlation between metabolic and endocrine parameters with RBP4 levels in 200 PCOS patients and 64 healthy controls.
Methods: Serum RBP4 was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (Immundiagnostik AG, Bensheim, Germany). In addition, anthropometric variables, clinical signs of hyperandrogenism, and body fat were evaluated, and a glucose tolerance test was performed to assess parameters of insulin resistance and glucose metabolism.
Results: Taking the entire PCOS cohort, RBP4 levels were positively correlated with body mass index (BMI), body fat, waist circumference, fasting glucose, and area under the curve for glucose (all P<0.05), but not with indices of insulin resistance. On the other hand, PCOS women with impaired glucose metabolism had higher RBP4 levels than PCOS women with normal glucose metabolism (median 30.6, range 23.3–73.9 versus median 26.3, range 6.4–61.4, P<0.05). Furthermore, no differences were found in RBP4 levels between lean PCOS women and BMI-matched healthy controls.
Conclusion: In German PCOS women, serum RBP4 levels are associated with obesity and parameters of glucose metabolism but not with PCOS per se.