Vasomotor symptoms (VMS) are prevalent symptoms that can have a negative impact on quality of life. VMS have also been linked to cardiovascular disease risk, yet the mechanisms underlying these associations have not been elucidated. Some initial works link VMS to adverse adipokine profiles or cytokines produced by adipose tissue. However, results are not entirely consistent and are based entirely on self-report VMS, which is influenced by a range of memory and reporting biases. The aim of this work was to test whether physiologically assessed VMS are associated with lower adiponectin, the most abundant adipokine in the body, controlling for confounding factors. We also consider whether adiponectin explains previously documented relationships between VMS and carotid atherosclerosis.
A total of 300 peri- and postmenopausal nonsmoking women aged 40 to 60 years enrolled in the MsHeart study comprised the analytic sample. Women were free of hormone therapy or other medications impacting VMS, insulin-dependent diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Participants underwent ambulatory physiologic VMS monitoring, physical measures, a carotid ultrasound, and fasting phlebotomy.
More frequent physiologically assessed VMS were associated with lower adiponectin (B [SE] = −0.081 [0.028], P = 0.004; or 0.081 lower μg/mL in adiponectin for each additional VMS over 24 hours), controlling for age, race/ethnicity, education, insulin resistance, and waist circumference. Associations were not explained by endogenous estradiol. Adiponectin did not explain associations between VMS and carotid atherosclerosis.
Physiologic VMS were associated with lower adiponectin after considering potential confounders. The role of adipokines in VMS and in links between VMS and health warrants further attention.