Open Access Research article

Insulin resistance and adipokines serum levels in a caucasian cohort of hiv-positive patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy: a cross sectional study

Victoria Arama12, Catalin Tiliscan12*, Adrian Streinu-Cercel12, Daniela Ion1, Raluca Mihailescu2, Daniela Munteanu2, Adriana Hristea12, Stefan Sorin Arama1 and the SLD-ART study group

Author affiliations

1 Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest, Romania

2 Prof. Dr. Matei Bals National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Bucharest, Romania

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Citation and License

BMC Endocrine Disorders 2013, 13:4  doi:10.1186/1472-6823-13-4

Published: 26 January 2013



Insulin resistance is frequent in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and may be related to antiretroviral therapy. Cytokines secreted by adipose tissue (adipokines) are linked to insulin sensitivity. The present study is aimed to assess the prevalence of insulin resistance (IR) and its association with several adipokines, in a non-diabetic Romanian cohort of men and women with HIV-1 infection, undergoing combination antiretroviral therapy (cART).


A cross-sectional study was conducted in an unselected sample of 89 HIV-1-positive, non-diabetic patients undergoing stable cART for at least 6 months. Metabolic parameters were measured, including fasting plasma insulin, and circulating adiponectin, leptin, resistin, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels. Insulin resistance was estimated by measuring the Quantitative Insulin Sensitivity Check Index (QUICKI), using a cut-off value of 0.33. A linear regression model was fitted to QUICKI to test the association of IR and adipokines levels.


A total of 89 patients (aged 18–65, median: 28 years) including 51 men (57.3%) and 38 women (42.7%) were included in the study. Fifty nine patients (66.3%) were diagnosed with IR based on QUICKI values lower than the cut-off point. IR prevalence was 72.5% in men and 57.6% in women. The presence of the IR was not influenced by either the time of the HIV diagnosis or by the duration of cART. Decreased adiponectin and increased serum triglycerides were associated with increased IR in men (R=0.43, p=0.007). Hyperleptinemia in women was demonstrated to be associated with the presence of IR (R=0.33, p=0.03).


Given the significant prevalence of the IR in our young non-diabetic cohort with HIV infection undergoing antiretroviral therapy reported in our study and the consecutive risk of diabetes and cardiovascular events, we suggest that the IR management should be a central component of HIV-infection therapeutic strategy. As adipokines play major roles in regulating glucose homeostasis with levels varying according to the sex, we suggest that further studies investigating adipokines should base their analyses on gender differences.

Adipokines; Adiponectin; Leptin; Antiretroviral therapy; Insulin resistance; HIV