Markers of iron homeostasis are related to insulin resistance (IR) in adults. However, studies in children and adolescents are scarce and show contradictory results. The aim was to evaluate the potential relationship between iron status markers and IR. Additionally, no previous study has explored the mutual effect of biomarkers of iron homeostasis and inflammation (i.e. high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP)), and adipokines (i.e. retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4)) on IR in the cohort of adolescent girls.

Material and methods:
A total of 60 girls age between 16 and 19 years were included in the study. Serum levels of ferritin, transferrin, soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), hsCRP, and RBP4 were measured by immunonephelometry. Homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and iron homeostasis indexes were calculated. Univariate and multivariate binary logistic regression analysis were used to investigate the possible independent associations of the examined biomarkers. Principal component analysis was used to examine their mutual effect on HOMA-IR in the studied girls.

Ferritin, sTfR, hsCRP and RBP4 were significant predictors for higher HOMA-IR in univariate analysis (p = 0.020, p = 0.009, p = 0.007, p = 0.003, respectively). Multivariate regression analysis after adjustment for waist circumference (WC) showed that serum sTfR levels remained positively associated with higher HOMA-IR (p = 0.044). Factorial analysis revealed that the obesity-inflammation related factor (i.e., WC and hsCRP) and adipokine-acute phase protein related factor (i.e., RBP4 and ferritin) showed significant differences between HOMA-IR < 2.5 and HOMA-IR ≥ 2.5.

Serum sTfR levels are independently associated with HOMA-IR, whereas higher serum ferritin levels together with higher RBP4 are related to higher HOMA-IR in adolescent girls.