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Circulating leptin in patients with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge-eating disorder: relationship to body weight, eating patterns, psychopathology and endocrine changes


Circulating leptin in patients with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge-eating disorder: relationship to body weight, eating patterns, psychopathology and endocrine changes



Psychiatry Research 94(2): 121-129



ISSN/ISBN: 0165-1781

PMID: 10808037

DOI: 10.1016/s0165-1781(00)00144-x

A decreased production of leptin has been reported in women with anorexia nervosa (AN) and has been attributed merely to the patients' reduced body fat mass. The extent to which eating patterns, purging behaviors, psychopathology and endocrine changes may contribute to the genesis of leptin alterations has not been deeply investigated. Therefore, we measured plasma levels of leptin, glucose and other hormones in three groups of eating disorder patients with different body weight (BW), eating patterns and purging behaviors. Sixty-seven women, 21 with AN, 32 with bulimia nervosa (BN), 14 with binge-eating disorder (BED) and 25 healthy females volunteered for the study. We found that circulating leptin was significantly reduced in AN and BN patients, but significantly enhanced in women with BED. In anorexics, plasma glucose was decreased, whereas plasma cortisol was enhanced; blood concentrations of 17beta-estradiol and prolactin (PRL) were reduced in both AN, BN and BED patients. In all subject groups, a strong positive correlation emerged between plasma levels of leptin and the subjects' BW or body mass index, but not between leptin and psychopathological measures, plasma glucose, cortisol, PRL and 17beta-estradiol. Since leptin was reduced in both underweight anorexics and normal weight bulimics, but increased in overweight BED women, who compulsively binge without engaging in compensatory behaviors, we suggest that factors other than BW may play a role in the determination of leptin changes in eating disorders.

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