, Volume 51, Issue 8, pp 1375-1381

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Moderate alcohol consumption increases insulin sensitivity and ADIPOQ expression in postmenopausal women: a randomised, crossover trial

  • M. M. JoostenAffiliated withBusiness Unit Biosciences, TNO Quality of LifeDivision of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University Email author 
  • , J. W. J. BeulensAffiliated withBusiness Unit Biosciences, TNO Quality of LifeDivision of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University
  • , S. KerstenAffiliated withDivision of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University
  • , H. F. J. HendriksAffiliated withBusiness Unit Biosciences, TNO Quality of Life



To determine whether 6 weeks of daily, moderate alcohol consumption increases expression of the gene encoding adiponectin (ADIPOQ) and plasma levels of the protein, and improves insulin sensitivity in postmenopausal women.


In a randomised, open-label, crossover trial conducted in the Netherlands, 36 apparently healthy postmenopausal women who were habitual alcohol consumers, received 250 ml white wine (∼25 g alcohol/day) or 250 ml of white grape juice (control) daily during dinner for 6 weeks. Randomisation to treatment allocation occurred according to BMI. Insulin sensitivity and ADIPOQ mRNA and plasma adiponectin levels were measured at the end of both periods. Insulin sensitivity was estimated using the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Levels of ADIPOQ mRNA in subcutaneous adipose tissue were determined by RT-PCR.


All subjects completed the study. Six weeks of white wine consumption reduced fasting insulin (mean ± SEM 40.0 ± 3.4 vs 46.5 ± 3.4 pmol/l; p < 0.01) and HOMA-IR (1.42 ± 0.13 vs 1.64 ± 0.13; p = 0.02) compared with 6 weeks of grape juice consumption. ADIPOQ mRNA levels (1.09 ± 0.15 vs 0.98 ± 0.15; p = 0.04) and plasma levels of total (13.1 ± 0.8 vs 12.0 ± 0.8 μg/ml; p < 0.001) and high molecular weight (HMW) adiponectin (9.9 ± 1.2 vs 8.8 ± 1.2 μg/ml; p = 0.02) significantly increased after alcohol compared with juice consumption. Changes in ADIPOQ mRNA levels correlated with changes in plasma levels of total adiponectin (ρ = 0.46; p < 0.01). Both fasting triacylglycerol (8.2%; p = 0.04) and LDL-cholesterol levels (7.8%; p < 0.0001) decreased, whereas HDL-cholesterol increased (7.0%; p < 0.0001) after prolonged moderate alcohol intake. No notable adverse effects were reported.


Moderate alcohol consumption for 6 weeks improves insulin sensitivity, adiponectin levels and lipid profile in postmenopausal women. Furthermore, these data suggest a transcriptional mechanism leading to the alcohol-induced increase in adiponectin plasma levels.

Trial registration: ID no.: NCT00285909


Partly funded by the Dutch Foundation for Alcohol Research (SAR).


Adiponectin Alcohol consumption Gene expression High molecular weight adiponectin Insulin sensitivity Lipid profile Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma Postmenopausal women