(HealthDay News) — Obesity in adolescence is associated with changes in the circulatory T-lymphocyte profile, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension 2015 Scientific Sessions in Washington, D.C.

Carmen de Miguel, PhD, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues examined whether obesity would lead to different circulating T-lymphocyte profiles and activation status in Caucasian and African-American adolescents. Circulating immune cell phenotypes and activation status were analyzed for 90 teenagers.

For white individuals, obesity correlated with significant reduction of circulating T-lymphocyte percentages regardless of gender, the researchers found. Black males, but not females, had a significant decrease in percentages of circulating CD8+ and activated CD8+ cells. Obese subjects had increased white blood cell counts; when results were normalized to these counts, obesity correlated with significantly elevated absolute values of CD3+ and CD4+ cells, regardless of gender or race. 

In obese white individuals there was a positive correlation between circulating CD4+ cell percentage and HDL cholesterol. In obese back males, there was a negative correlation between activated T cells (CD3+/CD69+) percentage and HDL cholesterol.

“We think that the fact that the girls do not decrease the numbers of activated T cells could be important in explaining the high risk that black females have of developing cardiovascular disease later in life,” de Miguel said in a statement.

Find out more information.