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Scand J Immunol. 1999 Nov;50(5):536-41.

Alterations in expression and in serum activity of dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP IV, CD26) in patients with hyporectic eating disorders.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Charité Campus Virchow-Klinikum, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin.


The notion that patients with eating disorders maintain a functional immunosurveillance in spite of severe malnutrition has attracted researchers for years. Dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP IV), a serine protease with broad tissue distribution and known activity in serum, operates in the cascade of immune responses. Membrane-bound DPP IV expressed on lymphocytes, also known as the leucocyte antigen CD26, is considered to participate in T-cell activation. We hypothesized that the activity of DPP IV in serum and expression of CD26 in lymphocytes may be altered in patients with eating disorders. Serum DPP IV activity and the number of CD26 (DPP IV)-positive peripheral blood lymphocytes were measured in 34 patients [anorexia nervosa (AN): n = 11, bulimia (B): n = 23] in four consecutive weekly analyses. In addition, the expression of CD25 (interleukin-2 receptor alpha chain) was evaluated to estimate the degree of T-cell activation. The same analyses were carried out in healthy female volunteers (HC, n = 20). CD2-CD26-positive cells were reduced in patients compared with healthy controls [mean 40.2% (AN) and 41.1% (B) versus 47.4% (HC), P < 0.01], while the DPP IV activity in serum was elevated [mean 108.4 U/l (AN) versus 91.1 U/l (B) and 80.3 U/l (HC), P < 0.01]. The potential implications of our observations on, and beyond, immune function are discussed.

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