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J Am Diet Assoc. 2004 Jun;104(6):903-12.

Frequent intentional weight loss is associated with lower natural killer cell cytotoxicity in postmenopausal women: possible long-term immune effects.

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  • 1University of Washington Medical Center, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Weight-loss attempts are likely to become more frequent as the prevalence of obesity rises. Repeated cycles of loss and gain are a common consequence of failed weight-loss attempts. The question of whether this pattern has negative health effects is unresolved. The objective of this research was to investigate associations between weight-loss history and current measures of immune function.

DESIGN:

The study design was a cross-sectional study.

SUBJECTS:

One hundred fourteen healthy, overweight, sedentary, postmenopausal women were recruited for an exercise intervention study and were currently weight stable.

METHODS:

History of intentional weight loss was assessed by questionnaire. Flow cytometry was used to measure natural killer cell (NK) cytotoxicity at four effector-to-target (E:T) ratios and for enumerating and phenotyping lymphocytes. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to investigate associations between weight loss within the past 20 years and current immune function.

RESULTS:

Women who reported ever intentionally losing >or=10 pounds had lower measured NK cytotoxicity than those who did not (24.7%+/-12.1% vs 31.1%+/-14.7%, respectively, at E:T 25:1; P=.01). Increasing frequency of previous intentional weight loss was associated with lower NK cytotoxicity (P=.003, trend). As an independent predictor, longer duration of recent weight stability was associated with higher NK cytotoxicity (21.6%+/-11.9%, 24.4%+/-11.0%, and 31.9%+/-14.4% for <or=2, >2 to <or=5, and >5 years of weight stability, respectively; P=.0002, trend). The frequency of weight loss episodes was also associated with differences in the number and proportion of NK cells.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study provides evidence that frequent intentional weight loss may have long-term effects on immune function.

Comment in

  • Weight cycling and immunocompetence. [J Am Diet Assoc. 2004]
PMID:
15175588
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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