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The effect of moderate alcohol consumption on adiponectin oligomers and muscle oxidative capacity: a human intervention study

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The aim of this study was to investigate whether moderate alcohol consumption increases plasma high molecular weight (HMW) adiponectin and/or muscle oxidative capacity.

Materials and methods

Eleven lean (BMI 18–25 kg/m2) and eight overweight (BMI ≥27 kg/m2) men consumed 100 ml whisky (∼32 g alcohol) or water daily for 4 weeks in a randomised, controlled, crossover trial. After each treatment period, muscle biopsies and fasting blood samples were collected.


Adiponectin concentrations increased (p < 0.001) by 12.5% after 4 weeks of moderate alcohol consumption. Moderate alcohol consumption tended to increase HMW adiponectin by 57% (p = 0.07) and medium molecular weight adiponectin by 12.5% (p = 0.07), but not low molecular weight (LMW) adiponectin. Skeletal muscle citrate synthase, cytochrome c oxidase and β-3-hydroxyacyl coenzyme A dehydrogenase (β-HAD) activity were not changed after moderate alcohol consumption, but an interaction between alcohol consumption and BMI was observed for cytochrome c oxidase (p = 0.072) and citrate synthase (p = 0.102) activity. Among lean men, moderate alcohol consumption tended to increase cytochrome c oxidase (p = 0.08) and citrate synthase activity (p = 0.12) by 23 and 26%, respectively, but not among overweight men. In particular, plasma HMW adiponectin correlated positively with activities of skeletal muscle citrate synthase (r = 0.64, p = 0.009), cytochrome c oxidase (p = 0.59, p = 0.009) and β-HAD (r = 0.46, p = 0.056), while such correlation was not present for LMW adiponectin. Whole-body insulin sensitivity and intramyocellular triacylglycerol content were not affected by moderate alcohol consumption.


Moderate alcohol consumption increases adiponectin concentrations, and in particular HMW adiponectin. Concentrations of HMW adiponectin in particular were positively associated with skeletal muscle oxidative capacity.

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β-3-hydroxyacyl coenzyme A dehydrogenase


high molecular weight


intramyocellular triacylglycerol


low molecular weight


medium molecular weight


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The skilful help of R. Koopman, M. Brouwers and A. Georgieva is gratefully acknowledged. We thank the volunteers for their enthusiastic participation. The research described in this paper was funded by the Dutch Foundation for Alcohol Research.

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The authors have no duality of interest.

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Correspondence to H. F. J. Hendriks.

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Beulens, J.W.J., van Loon, L.J.C., Kok, F.J. et al. The effect of moderate alcohol consumption on adiponectin oligomers and muscle oxidative capacity: a human intervention study. Diabetologia 50, 1388–1392 (2007).

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