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Introduction. Immunoglobulins (Ig) reactive with α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH), an anorexigenic neuropeptide, are present in humans and were previously associated with eating disorders. In this longitudinal study involving patients with anorexia nervosa (AN), we determined whether α-MSH in serum is bound to IgG and analyzed long-term dynamics of both α-MSH peptide and α-MSH-reactive Ig in relation to changes in BMI and gut microbiota composition. Methods. The study included 64 adolescents with a restrictive form of AN, whose serum samples were collected at hospital admission, discharge, and during a 1-year follow-up visit, and 41 healthy controls, all females. Results. We found that in both study groups, approximately 40% of serum α-MSH was reversibly bound to IgG and that levels of α-MSH-reactive IgG, but not of α-MSH peptide in patients with AN were low at hospital admission, but recovered 1-year later. Total IgG levels were also low at admission. Moreover, BMI-standard deviation score (SDS) correlated positively with α-MSH IgG in both groups studied, but negatively with α-MSH peptide only in controls. Significant correlations between the abundance of specific bacterial taxa in the gut microbiota and α-MSH peptide and IgG levels were found in both study groups, but they were more frequent in controls. Conclusion/Discussion. We conclude that IgG in the blood plays a role as an α-MSH binding protein, whose characteristics are associated with BMI in both patients with AN and controls. Furthermore, the study suggests that low production of α-MSH-reactive IgG during the starvation phase in patients with AN may be related to altered gut microbiota composition.

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