Background/Aim: The adipocytokines leptin and adiponectin represent a critical link between metabolism, immunity and chronic inflammation. A chronic vascular inflammatory state plays an important role in the pathophysiology of thalassaemia. We aimed to analyze the levels of these adipocytokines and determine any possible correlations with disease severity or vascular inflammation markers in beta-thalassaemia. Methods: Serum leptin, adiponectin, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, endothelins, vascular adhesion molecule-1, intracellular adhesion molecule-1 and L- and E-selectin were measured in 28 beta-thalassaemia patients and compared with levels in healthy controls. Results: Leptin was significantly lower in patients compared to controls (2.23 ± 1.8 vs. 10.24 ± 5.78 µg/l; p = 0.0018), whereas adiponectin was elevated (11.75 ± 5.67 vs. 6.83 ± 2.75 µg/l; p = 0.009). For both adipocytokines, no correlations were found with characteristics such as age, gender, type of chelation, body mass index z score or haemoglobin. Leptin, but not adiponectin, was negatively correlated with ferritin (p = 0.032, r = –0.61). No correlations were found between leptin and the inflammation markers. However, adiponectin was positively correlated with endothelin-1 (p = 0.022, r = 0.63). Conclusions: Serum leptin is low in beta-thalassaemia, perhaps due to the toxic effect of iron overload on adipose tissue. Paradoxically, adiponectin levels are high and positively correlated with endothelin-1, raising questions about the pro- or anti-inflammatory role of this adipocytokine in beta-thalassaemia.

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