Anorexia Nervosa and the Immune System—A Narrative Review
The pathogenesis of an increasing number of chronic diseases is being attributed to effects of the immune system. However, its role in the development and maintenance of anorexia nervosa is seemingly under-appreciated. Yet, in examining the available research on the immune system and genetic studies in anorexia nervosa, one becomes increasingly suspicious of the immune system’s potential role in the pathophysiology of anorexia nervosa. Specifically, research is suggestive of increased levels of various pro-inflammatory cytokines as well as the spontaneous production of tumor necrosis factor in anorexia nervosa; genetic studies further support a dysregulated immune system in this disorder. Potential contributors to this dysregulated immune system are discussed including increased oxidative stress, chronic physiological/psychological stress, changes in the intestinal microbiota, and an abnormal bone marrow microenvironment, all of which are present in anorexia nervosa.