Multiple studies on the dynamics of inflammatory cytokines in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) have been published, although results are not consistent among reports. Thus the pathophysiologic roles of these cytokines are not clear. We performed an exploratory analysis that included (1) comparisons of plasma interleukin-18 (IL-18) concentrations between patients with AN (n = 21) and healthy controls (n = 39), and (2) correlations between body mass index (BMI) and IL-18 concentrations in both groups, exploring the relationship between malnourishment and IL-18. Plasma IL-18 levels were significantly decreased in patients with AN compared with controls. Plasma IL-18 levels correlated to BMI in controls, but not in patients with AN. These results suggest that a decline in plasma IL-18 levels in patients with AN is not only due to malnourishment, but other pathophysiologic changes as well. IL-18 has a role in the brain’s reaction to sadness and chronic stress. Therefore, decreased levels of IL-18 may commonly occur in patients with chronic AN.
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