The purpose of this study was to determine whether the immune system is involved in the different metabolic circumstances in healthy and unhealthy overweight individuals. We examined the metabolic and immune characteristics of 117 overweight individuals. Subjects were classified as metabolically healthy overweight (MHO, n = 72) or metabolically unhealthy overweight (MUO, n = 45). The immune response was measured by circulating levels of natural killer (NK) cell activity and cytokines. Both groups were comparable with regards to age, sex distribution, smoking and drinking status, and body mass index. When compared to the MHO group, the MUO group showed higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure, serum levels of triglyceride, glucose, glucose-related markers, and lower levels of HDL cholesterol. Compared to the MHO group, the MUO group showed 39% lower interferon-γ levels (not significant) and 41% lower interleukin (IL)-12 levels (significant). The MUO group also showed lower NK cell activity at E:T ratios of 10:1, 5:1, 2.5:1, and 1.25:1 (all Ps < 0.05) than the MHO group. This study indicates that individuals displaying the MUO phenotype present an unfavorable immune system with lower NK cell activities under all assay conditions and lower serum levels of IL-12 than the activities and levels in similarly overweight MHO individuals. This result suggests that the immune system may be altered in overweight individuals who are at risk for overweight/obesity-related comorbidities.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy