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Original Research

Appetite Regulatory Hormones in Women With Anorexia Nervosa: Binge-Eating/Purging Versus Restricting Type

Kamryn T. Eddy, PhD; Elizabeth A. Lawson, MD; Christina Meade, BA; Erinne Meenaghan, NP; Sarah E. Horton, BS; Madhusmita Misra, MD; Anne Klibanski, MD; and Karen K. Miller, MD

Published: July 8, 2014

Article Abstract

Objective: Anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric illness characterized by low weight, disordered eating, and hallmark neuroendocrine dysfunction. Behavioral phenotypes are defined by predominant restriction or bingeing/purging; binge-eating/purging type anorexia nervosa is associated with poorer outcome. The pathophysiology underlying anorexia nervosa types is unknown, but altered hormones, known to be involved in eating behaviors, may play a role.

Method: To examine the role of anorexigenic hormones in anorexia nervosa subtypes, we examined serum levels of peptide YY (PYY; total and active [3-36] forms), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and leptin as primary outcomes in women with DSM-5 restricting type anorexia nervosa (n = 50), binge-eating/purging type anorexia nervosa (n = 25), and healthy controls (n = 22). In addition, women completed validated secondary outcome measures of eating disorder psychopathology (Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire) and depression and anxiety symptoms (Hamilton Rating Scales for Depression [HDRS] and Anxiety [HARS]). The study samples were collected from May 22, 2004, to February 7, 2012.

Results: Mean PYY 3-36 and leptin levels were lower and BDNF levels higher in binge-eating/purging type anorexia nervosa than in restricting type anorexia nervosa (all P values < .05). After controlling for body mass index, differences in PYY and PYY 3-36 between anorexia nervosa types were significant (P < .05) and differences in BDNF were at the trend level (P < .10). PYY 3-36 was positively (r = 0.27, P = .02) and leptin was negatively (r = −0.51, P < .0001) associated with dietary restraint; BDNF was positively associated with frequency of purging (r = 0.21, P = .04); and leptin was negatively associated with frequency of bingeing (r = −0.29, P = .007) and purging (r = −0.31, P = .004).

Conclusions: Among women with anorexia nervosa, the anorexigenic hormones PYY, BDNF, and leptin are differentially regulated between the restricting and binge/purge types. Whether these hormone pathways play etiologic roles with regard to anorexia nervosa behavioral types or are compensatory merits further study.

Volume: 76

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