Anorexics Have Autoantibodies to Appetite Hormone

Psychological traits correlated with levels of autoantibody

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Anorexia nervosa (AN) patients are more likely than controls to have autoantibodies directed against alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), a peptide hormone involved in appetite control and stress response, according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences early edition. Levels of the autoantibody appear to be correlated with the Eating Disorder Inventory-2 score.

Previously, Serguei O. Fetissov, M.D., Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, and colleagues found that AN and bulimia nervosa (BN) patients, as well as some control subjects, have developed autoantibodies to the melanocortin peptides, alpha-MSH and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). In the present study, the authors looked at 12 AN patients, 42 BN patients and 41 control subjects.

Only levels of alpha-MSH were correlated with Eating Disorder Inventory-2 scores in AN and BN patients, although the relationship was opposite in AN versus BN. Autoantibodies to ACTH, oxytocin or vasopressin were "associated with fewer psychopathological traits characteristic for patients with eating disorders," according to the report.

"The growing evidence of the immune system's critical involvement in some neurological and psychiatric disorders suggests that [autoantibodies] reacting with neuropeptides responsible for the central control of appetite may partake in the pathogenesis of eating disorders," they add.

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