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Metabolism. 2010 Apr;59(4):540-6. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2009.08.017. Epub 2009 Oct 20.

The association of tumor necrosis factor alpha receptor 2 and tumor necrosis factor alpha with insulin resistance and the influence of adipose tissue biomarkers in humans.

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  • 1Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) is a proinflammatory adipokine hypothesized to link obesity with insulin resistance. Functional studies suggest that TNFalpha acts through pathways involving adipokines and fatty acids to induce insulin resistance. We tested the hypothesis that the association of measures of TNFalpha activity with insulin resistance is independent of obesity and adipose tissue biomarkers. We analyzed data from 2131 participants (without diabetes) of the Framingham Offspring Study examination 7. The outcome of interest was insulin resistance, measured using the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR). Tumor necrosis factor alpha activity was measured by plasma tumor necrosis factor alpha receptor 2 (TNFr2) or TNFalpha; possible confounders included adipose tissue biomarkers (plasma adiponectin, resistin, and triglycerides). We used multivariable age- and sex-adjusted linear regression analyses to adjust for waist circumference and for biomarkers individually and simultaneously, and in biomarker-stratified (above and below median) models. We found that TNFr2 was positively associated with HOMA-IR (r = 0.21, P < .0001). In age- and sex-adjusted model, for each increase of 1 standard deviation of TNFr2 (SD = 746 pg/mL), the log (HOMA-IR) value was increased by 0.11 units (P < .0001). Adjustment for waist circumference reduced the TNFr2 beta-coefficient (by about 45%), but the association between TNFr2 and HOMA-IR remained significant (P < .0001). Tumor necrosis factor alpha receptor 2 was still associated to HOMA-IR after adding adiponectin, resistin, and triglycerides (individually and simultaneously). We found similar associations with plasma levels of TNFalpha. We conclude that, in a representative community sample, measures of TNFalpha activity are associated with insulin resistance, even after accounting for central adiposity and other adipose tissue biomarkers.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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