Tumour necrosis factor alpha and oxidative stress as maintaining factors in the evolution of anorexia nervosa

  • E. Agnello
  • G. Malfi
  • A. M. Costantino
  • P. Massarenti
  • M. Pugliese
  • N. Fortunati
  • M. G. Catalano
  • A. Palmo
Original Research Paper


OBJECTIVE: Aim of the study was to evaluate tumour necrosis factor α (TNF-α) axis and oxidative status in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) seeking a possible correlation with both nutritional status and evolution of the disease. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Thirty-nine consecutive women with AN and an age-matched healthy control group were studied. Patients were 26±9 yr, with a body mass index (BMI) of 13.9±2 kg/m2. TNF-α, its receptors TNF-R55 and TNF-R75, and oxidative status markers (selenium, ascorbic/dehydroascorbic acid, retinol, α-tocopherol, selenium-dependent gluthatione peroxidase, reduced/oxidated gluthatione) were measured. A correlation with both nutritional indexes (body weight, BMI, albumin, prealbumin, transferrin, lymphocyte count) and disease duration was investigated. Pearson’s correlation and unpaired Student’s t-test were used to compare patients and controls. RESULTS: TNF-α and oxidative status markers were significantly higher in patients than controls and TNF-α was directly related to dehydroascorbic acid (p<0.05). Both TNF-R55 and TNF-R75 were higher in patients with duration of disease longer than one year as compared to controls and patients with shorter duration. Receptors inversely correlated with BMI (p<0.05 and p<0.01) and directly with disease duration (p<0.05). Inverse correlation between disease duration and BMI was present (p<0.01). CONCLUSIONS: The study showed activation of TNF-α axis and oxidative stress in AN patients, as well as correlation between the two systems. Due to the correlation between TNF receptors and both BMI and disease duration, a possible role of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the evolution of the eating disorder is suggested.


Anorexia nervosa oxidative stress pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α TNF-R55 TNF-R75 


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Copyright information

© Editrice Kurtis 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Agnello
    • 1
  • G. Malfi
    • 1
  • A. M. Costantino
    • 1
  • P. Massarenti
    • 2
  • M. Pugliese
    • 3
  • N. Fortunati
    • 4
  • M. G. Catalano
    • 3
  • A. Palmo
    • 1
  1. 1.A.O.U. San Giovanni Battista of TurinTurinItaly
  2. 2.Laboratory of Clinical NutritionA.O.U. San Giovanni Battista of TurinTurinItaly
  3. 3.Department of Clinical PathophysiologyUniversity of TurinTurinItaly
  4. 4.Laboratory of Oncological EndocrinologyA.O.U. San Giovanni Battista of TurinTurinItaly

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