Immune changes may occur in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) or bulimia nervosa (BN), and a role for proinflammatory cytokines has been proposed in the pathogenesis of both disorders. We measured plasma levels of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), soluble forms of the cytokine receptor proteins gp130 and leukemia inhibitory factor receptor (LIF-R), the anti-inflammatory Clara cell 16-kD protein (CC16), prolactin (PRL), cortisol and 17β-estradiol in 21 anorexic women, 21 bulimic women and 21 healthy females. As compared to healthy subjects, anorexics exhibited significantly increased plasma levels of gp130 and LIF-R, whereas bulimics had significantly decreased blood concentrations of CC16. No significant differences emerged in the blood levels of the remaining immune parameters. Both patient groups manifested higher plasma levels of cortisol and reduced plasma concentrations of PRL and 17β-estradiol. In anorexics, a significant negative correlation was found between plasma levels of gp130 or LIF-R and the body mass index. These findings do not support the hypothesis that proinflammatory cytokines may play a pathogenetic role in eating disorders.

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