Objective—We aimed to systematically review available literature linking adipokines to gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) for a comprehensive understanding of the roles of adipokines in the development of GDM.
Methods—We searched PubMed/MEDLINE and EMBASE databases for published studies on adipokines and GDM through October 21, 2014. We included articles if they had a prospective study design (i.e., blood samples for adipokines measurement were collected before GDM diagnosis). Random-effects models were used to pool the weighted mean differences comparing levels of adipokines between GDM cases and non-GDM controls.
Results—Of 1,523 potentially relevant articles, we included 25 prospective studies relating adipokines to incident GDM. Our meta-analysis of nine prospective studies on adiponectin and eight prospective studies on leptin indicated that adiponectin levels in the first or early second trimester of pregnancy were 2.25 μg/ml lower (95% CI: 1.75–2.75), whereas leptin levels were 7.25 ng/ml higher (95% CI 3.27–11.22), among women who later developed GDM than women who did not. Prospective data were sparse and findings were inconsistent for visfatin, retinol binding protein (RBP-4), resistin, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and vaspin. We did not identify prospective studies for several novel adipokines, including chemerin, apelin, omentin, or adipocyte fatty acid-binding protein. Moreover, no published prospective studies with longitudinal assessment of adipokines and incident GDM were identified.
Conclusion—Adiponectin levels in the first or second trimester of pregnancy are lower among pregnant women who later develop GDM than non-GDM women, whereas leptin levels are higher. Well-designed prospective studies with longitudinal assessment of adipokines during pregnancy are needed to understand the trajectories and dynamic associations of adipokines with GDM risk.