Vitamin D supplementation increases adipokine concentrations in overweight or obese adults

  • Aya Mousa
  • Negar Naderpoor
  • Kirsty Wilson
  • Magdalena Plebanski
  • Maximilian P. J. de Courten
  • Robert Scragg
  • Barbora de CourtenEmail author
Original Contribution



Vitamin D regulates adipokine production in vitro; however, clinical trials have been inconclusive. We conducted secondary analyses of a randomized controlled trial to examine whether vitamin D supplementation improves adipokine concentrations in overweight/obese and vitamin D-deficient adults.


Sixty-five individuals with a BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2 and 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) ≤ 50 nmol/L were randomized to oral cholecalciferol (100,000 IU single bolus followed by 4,000 IU daily) or matching placebo for 16 weeks. We measured BMI, waist-to-hip ratio, % body fat (dual X-ray absorptiometry), serum 25(OH)D (chemiluminescent immunoassay) and total adiponectin, leptin, resistin, and adipsin concentrations (multiplex assay; flow cytometry). Sun exposure, physical activity, and diet were assessed using questionnaires.


Fifty-four participants completed the study (35M/19F; mean age = 31.9 ± 8.5 years; BMI = 30.9 ± 4.4 kg/m2). After 16 weeks, vitamin D supplementation increased 25(OH)D concentrations compared with placebo (57.0 ± 21.3 versus 1.9 ± 15.1 nmol/L, p < 0.001). There were no differences between groups for changes in adiponectin, leptin, resistin, or adipsin in unadjusted analyses (all p > 0.05). After adjustment for baseline values, season, sun exposure, and dietary vitamin D intake, there was a greater increase in adiponectin (β[95%CI] = 13.7[2.0, 25.5], p = 0.02) and leptin (β[95%CI] = 22.3[3.8, 40.9], p = 0.02) in the vitamin D group compared with placebo. Results remained significant after additional adjustment for age, sex, and % body fat (p < 0.02).


Vitamin D may increase adiponectin and leptin concentrations in overweight/obese and vitamin D-deficient adults. Further studies are needed to clarify the molecular interactions between vitamin D and adipokines and the clinical implications of these interactions in the context of obesity.

Clinical trial registration NCT02112721


Vitamin D Adipokines Obesity Randomized controlled trial 



We thank all volunteers who participated in the trial, as well as our research assistants Mrs. Nicole Ng and Mrs. Rebecca Chandra for their assistance in running the trial, and Dr. Eveline Jona and Dr. Melanie Gibson-Helm for the random assignment of participants.

Author contributions statement

AM conducted the research, analyzed the data, and wrote the first draft of the paper. NN conducted the research and contributed to writing the manuscript. KW performed the laboratory analyses and contributed to writing the manuscript. MP supervised the laboratory analyses and contributed to writing the manuscript. MdC, RS, and BdC designed the research and contributed to writing the manuscript. BdC is the chief investigator of the trial, supervised data collection and analysis, and is the guarantor of this work and takes responsibility for data integrity and accuracy. All authors meet the ICMJE criteria for authorship, and have approved the final version of the manuscript.


AM is supported by a Postdoctoral Bridging Fellowship provided by Monash University. MP is supported by a Senior Research Fellowship (APP490977) from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia. BdC is supported by a National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship (100864) and is the recipient of the NHMRC grant which funded this trial (APP1047897).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

394_2019_1899_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (551 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 550 KB)
394_2019_1899_MOESM2_ESM.doc (57 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 57 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI), School of Public Health and Preventive MedicineMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Immunology and PathologyMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Health and Biomedical SciencesRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Centre for Chronic DiseaseVictoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.School of Population HealthUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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