Alterations in B cell subsets correlate with body composition parameters in female adolescents with anorexia nervosa

Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 13;11(1):1125. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-80693-4.


Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a severe eating disorder and often associated with altered humoral immune responses. However, distinct B cell maturation stages in peripheral blood in adolescents with AN have not been characterized. Treatment effects and the relationship between clinical and B cell parameters are also not fully understood. Here we investigated the phenotype of circulating B cell subsets and the relationship with body composition in adolescents with AN before (T0, n = 24) and after 6 weeks (T1, n = 20) of treatment. Using multi-parameter flow cytometry, we found increased percentages of antigen-experienced B cells and plasmablasts in patients with AN compared to healthy controls (n = 20). In contrast, percentages of CD1d+CD5+ B cells and transitional B cells with immunoregulatory roles were reduced at T0 and T1. These B cell frequencies correlated positively with fat mass, fat mass index (FMI), free fat mass index, and body mass index standard deviation score. In addition, scavenger-like receptor CD5 expression levels were downregulated on transitional B cells and correlated with fat mass and FMI in AN. Our findings that regulatory B cell subgroups were reduced in AN and their strong relationship with body composition parameters point toward an impact of immunoregulatory B cells in the pathogenesis of AN.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adolescent
  • Anorexia Nervosa / immunology*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / physiopathology*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy
  • Antigens, CD19 / analysis
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Lymphocyte Count


  • Antigens, CD19
  • CD19 molecule, human