Background: Metabolic syndrome (MetS) represents a cluster of known cardiometabolic risk factors, which elevates the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD) and chronic kidney disease (CKD) in adults and, only recently, even in children and adolescents. Circulating nitric oxide (NOx) has been observed to influence MetS risk factors in adults, but this has been scarcely investigated in children. The aim of the present study was to determine whether circulating NOx levels correlate with known components of MetS in Arab children and adolescents.
Methods: Anthropometrics, serum NOx, lipid profile and fasting glucose levels were measured in 740 Saudi Arabs aged 10-17 years (68.8% girls). The presence of MetS was screened using the criteria of de Ferranti et al. Results: Overall, serum NOx levels were significantly higher in MetS participants compared to non-MetS (25.7 µmol/L (10.1-46.7) versus 11.9 µmol/L (5.5-22.9), p < 0.001) even after adjustments for age, BMI and sex. With the exception of elevated blood pressure, higher circulating NOx significantly increased the odds for MetS and its components. Lastly, receiver operating characteristics (ROC) showed that NOx, as a diagnostic marker for MetS, had good sensitivity and was higher in boys than girls (all MetS participants: area under the curve (AUC) = 0.68, p < 0.001), (girls with MetS: AUC = 0.62, p = 0.002), (boys with MetS: AUC = 0.83, p < 0.001)).
Conclusions: MetS and most of its components were significantly associated with circulating NOx levels in Arab adolescents and may be a promising diagnostic biomarker for MetS.