Lymphocytes and immunoglobulin patterns across the threshold of severe obesity

Paolo Marzullo, Alessandro Minocci, Paola Giarda, Cecilia Marconi, Antonella Tagliaferri, Gillian E. Walker, Massimo Scacchi, Gianluca Aimaretti, Antonio Liuzzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The proinflammatory state of metabolic disorders encompasses the alterations in leukocyte counts and acute-phase reactants, and thus, predisposes to acute and chronic cardiovascular events linked to fat accumulation. Leptin is a marker of adiposity and also yields regulatory effects on innate and adaptive immunity; however, its role on the immune function of obese subjects remains to be elucidated. The aim of this study is to determine the influence of obesity and the role of leptin concentrations on lymphocyte counts and immunoglobulin levels as broad markers of immune function. Cross-sectional analysis in 147 obese (64 M, BMI 43 ± 8.1 kg/m2) and 111 age- and sex-matched controls (36 M, BMI 22.5 ± 2.6 kg/m2) by assessment of peripheral leukocyte counts, immunoglobulin (Ig) A, G, M levels, leptin, glucose and lipid homeostasis, and acute-phase reactants. Compared to controls, all the leukocyte components were significantly increased in obesity (p <0.0001 for all) except for basophils and eosinophils. While IgA and IgG levels were similar between groups, IgM levels were lower (p <0.001) in obese individuals. A significant relationship was evident between leptin and leukocyte counts (p <0.001), with this latter being correlated to insulin resistance, adiposity, and lipid profile. At the stepwise multiple regression analysis, leukocytes were best predicted by leptin (β = 0.43, p <0.0001) and male gender (β = 0.15, p <0.05), yet when obesity entered the equation, it acted as an independent predictor of leukocytes (β = 0.51, p <0.0001). Leptin also acted as a predictor of IgA levels (β = 0.20, p <0.01). Current results show that IgM levels are significantly decreased in patients with obesity in association to significant increments in leukocyte counts. These latter are markedly correlated to leptin levels, insulin resistance, lipid profile, and adiposity. This circumstance, and the significant correlation seen between leptin and IgA levels, may suggest an indirect intervention of leptin in the immunologic alterations consequent to obesity and related to its cardiovascular risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-400
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014



  • Immunoglobulins
  • Leptin
  • Leukocytes
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Marzullo, P., Minocci, A., Giarda, P., Marconi, C., Tagliaferri, A., Walker, G. E., Scacchi, M., Aimaretti, G., & Liuzzi, A. (2014). Lymphocytes and immunoglobulin patterns across the threshold of severe obesity. Endocrine, 45(3), 392-400.