Dysfunctional Immune-Privilege In Morbid Obesity: Implications and Effect of Gastric Bypass Surgery
Background: Despite the epidemiological evidence linking obesity and cancer, there has never been a causal link.We believe the chronic inflammation present in obesity may predispose the obese to cancer through Fas-receptor over-expression and L-selectin under-expression in leukocytes, and elevated Fas ligand secretion in tumors affecting the morbidly obese. Methods: Leukocytes from 25 patients having gastric bypass surgery were compared to 15 normal controls preoperatively and at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months postoperatively using flow cytometry to measure CD3, CD4, CD8, CD56, CD62 (L-selectin), CD 69, and CD95 (Fas antigen) expression on T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, natural killer cells, and neutrophils. Results: The percentage of CD95+T cells was significantly elevated from controls (69.4% vs 56%, P=0.005). This difference persisted through 1 month postoperatively. Furthermore, expression of CD95 per cell, was significantly greater in these patients than that of the controls (80.2 vs 62.6 gmf, P=0.018) preoperatively, and this continued to 1 month. Polymorphonuclear cells also displayed a similar elevation in CD95 gmf expression preoperatively (54.1 vs 40.7 gmf, P=0.023) which normalized by 3 months. Natural killer cells did not display elevated numbers of CD95 gmf preoperatively, but they did experience a significant decline by 12 months. Additionally, there was significant reduction in the number of naiveT cells [(T cells without L-selectin (CD62L)], when compared to normals preoperatively (41.8% vs 51.3%, P=0.001). There was no statistical difference between the postoperative patients and the controls by 3 months. CD69 was not different at baseline from controls in T or B cells, but there was a significant decrease by 12 months. Conclusion: The reduced expression of L-selectin combined with the elevated levels of CD95 suggests that morbid obesity predisposes patients to sites of immune privilege. This could be the mechanism for increased rates of cancer and wound infections seen in obesity. Surgically-induced weight loss eliminates these risk factors.
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