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A longitudinal analysis of cytokines in anorexia nervosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain Behavior and Immunity
Early online date9 May 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 May 2019


King's Authors


Objective: Inflammation has been proposed to have a pathophysiological role in anorexia nervosa (AN) and to contribute to the maintenance of the disorder. Longitudinal cytokine research in AN has focused on only a few pro-inflammatory cytokines. We assessed a broad range of cytokines over time in people undergoing specialised treatment for AN. Method: We measured serum concentrations of 27 cytokines in people with AN (n=23). Body mass index (BMI), eating disorder (ED) symptoms and general psychopathology were assessed and blood samples were collected within four weeks of the commencement of specialised ED treatment (baseline) and at 12- and 24-week follow-ups. Results: Both BMI and ED symptoms improved over the assessment period. Linear mixed models showed that log IL-6 decreased between baseline and week 12 assessments. By week 12, log IL-6 values were comparable to levels in healthy individuals. Log IL-7 increased from week 12 to week 24. Discussion: Initially elevated IL-6 serum concentrations appear to ‘normalize’ during the first 3-months of specialised treatment for AN and this co-occurs with improvements in eating disorder symptoms. Therefore, IL-6 has the potential to be a state biomarker for AN.

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