A Brief Review of the Biology of Anorexia Nervosa

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewResearchpeer-review

  • Magnus Sjögren
Background: The etiology of Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is unknown. A stress model for AN and other Eating Disorders, has been proposed by Connan and depicts risk factors and precipitating events, including biological, but several steps in this have yet to be evidenced. In order to elucidate the biology of AN, some studies have investigated the blood biochemistry in AN in the acute state, when BMI (Body Mass Index) is very low, and compared this to a recovered state. In this brief review, we present the results of a literature search on potential biomarkers of AN.
Method: A literature search using PUBMED and the following search terms: “Anorexia Nervosa” and “biomarker” revealed 180 articles (8th of May 2015). Additional searches included the search terms “gene”, “genetic”, “epigenetic”, “appetite”, “hormone”, and a specific search on “biology” and “review”. Furthermore, articles of interest were retrieved from the reference lists of the identified articles of the first PUBMED search.
Results: In general, there is a shortage of studies on biomarkers and the biology of AN, at least when you compare to similar fields of research in Affective disorders and Schizophrenia. The studies performed reveals that heritability is involved and that biological factors independent of BMI may play a role in the pathophysiology of AN. In the acute stage of AN, decreased levels of leptin and increases in ghreline and obestatin, hormones involved in the regulation of appetite, are often found.
Conclusion: In view of the rather few studies done, the small number of patients included in the studies, and the lack of additional information relating to behavioral and phenotypic characteristics, the results must be interpreted with caution. Preliminary findings indicate that factors independent of BMI may be involved in the pathophysiology of AN. During acute stages of AN, when BMI is lover than 17, 5, abnormal levels of appetite regulating hormones are often found.
Original languageEnglish
Article number222
JournalJournal of Psychology and Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2015

ID: 150910232