Ferritin concentrations, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes in middle-aged and elderly Chinese

Liang Sun, Oscar H. Franco, Frank B. Hu, Lu Cai, Zhijie Yu, Huaixing Li, Xingwang Ye, Qibin Qi, Jing Wang, An Pan, Yong Liu, Xu Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations


Context: Elevated ferritin concentrations frequently cluster with well-established risk factors of diabetes including obesity, metabolic syndrome, chronic inflammation, and altered circulating adipokines. Few studies, however, have systematically evaluated the effect of these risk factors on ferritin-diabetes association, particularly in Chinese populations. Objective: We aimed to investigate, in a middle-aged and elderly Chinese population, whether elevated ferritin concentrations are associated with higher risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes and to what extent the associations were influenced by obesity, inflammation, and adipokines. Design and Methods: We conducted a population-based, cross-sectional survey of 3289 participants aged 50-70 yr in Beijing and Shanghai in 2005. Fasting plasma ferritin, glucose, insulin, lipid profile, glycohemoglobin, inflammatory markers, adipokines, and dietary profile were measured. Results: Median ferritin concentrations were 155.7 ng/ml for men and 111.9 ng/ml for women. After multiple adjustment, the odds ratios (ORs) were substantially higher for type 2 diabetes (OR 3.26, 95% confidence interval 2.36-4.51) and metabolic syndrome [OR 2.80 (95% confidence interval 2.24-3.49)] in the highest ferritin quartile compared with those in the lowest quartile. These associations remained significant after further adjustment for dietary factors, body mass index, inflammatory markers, and adipokines. Conclusions: Elevated circulating ferritin concentrations were associated with higher risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome in middle-aged and elderly Chinese independent of obesity, inflammation, adipokines, and other risk factors. Our data support the crucial role of iron overload for metabolic diseases, even in a country with relatively high prevalence of iron deficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4690-4696
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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