We investigated changes in the immunoendocrine system during fasting. Ten hospitalized patients aged 14-46 y with psychosomatic disorders fasted for 7 or 10 d. Blood samples were collected before and on days 3 and 7 of the 7-d fasts. When fasting continued to 10 d, an additional sample was taken on day 10. We measured blood cellularity (white blood cells and total lymphocytes), the total number and percentage of lymphocyte subsets (CD2, CD3, CD4, CD8, and CD19), natural killer (NK) cell activity, cytokines (interleukin 1β, interleukin 2, interleukin 6, granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor, tumor necrosis factor α, and interferon γ), and soluble interleukin 2 receptors. Corticotropin, cortisol, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) concentrations were also determined. Although the total number of lymphocytes decreased during fasting, NK cell activity increased significantly. Plasma cortisol and DHEAS concentrations also increased significantly whereas changes in corticotropin concentrations were not significant. The total number and percentage of CD4 cells decreased significantly during fasting but no other lymphocyte subsets changed significantly. The percentage of CD4 cells was negatively correlated with cortisol concentrations during fasting. No detectable changes occurred in cytokines or soluble interleukin 2 receptors during the study. All measured immunoendocrine values that changed during fasting returned to prefasting values during the refeeding period. These findings indicate that fasting affects immune variables such as T cell subsets and NK cell activity at least in part through changes in adrenal gland-related hormones.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Nutrition and Dietetics