Inflammatory markers in anorexia nervosa: an exploratory study

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Inflammation has been suggested to play a pathophysiological role in anorexia nervosa (AN). In this exploratory cross-sectional study, we measured serum concentrations of 40 inflammatory markers (including cytokines, chemokines, and adhesion molecules) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in people with AN (n = 27) and healthy controls (HCs) (n = 13). Many of these inflammatory markers had not been previously quantified in people with AN. Eating disorder (ED) and general psychopathology symptoms were assessed. Body mass index (BMI) and body composition data were obtained. Interleukin (IL)-6, IL-15, and vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM)-1 concentrations were significantly elevated and concentrations of BDNF, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-β, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A were significantly lower in AN participants compared to HCs. Age, BMI, and percentage body fat mass were identified as potential confounding variables for several of these inflammatory markers. Of particular interest is that most of the quantified markers were unchanged in people with AN, despite them being severely underweight with evident body fat loss, and having clinically significant ED symptoms and severe depression and anxiety symptoms. Future research should examine the replicability of our findings and consider the effect of additional potential confounding variables, such as smoking and physical activity, on the relationship between AN and inflammation.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number11
Early online date24 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2018


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