Habitual binge/purge behavior influences circulating ghrelin levels in eating disorders

Muneki Tanaka, Tetsuro Naruo, Nobuatsu Nagai, Nobutaka Kuroki, Tomomi Shiiya, Masamitsu Nakazato, Shigeru Matsukura, Shin-ichi Nozoe
Journal of Psychiatric Research 2003, 37 (1): 17-22
Previous studies have reported that fasting plasma ghrelin concentrations play an important role in the pathophysiology of eating disorders. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between plasma ghrelin levels and frequency of abnormal eating behaviors, nutritional parameters in eating disorders. Fasting blood samples were obtained in 40 female anorexia nervosa (AN) patients, 21 restricting type (AN-R) and 19 binge-eating/purging type (AN-BP), in 31 bulimia nervosa (BN) patients, 18 purging type (BN-P) and 13 non-purging type (BN-NP), in 15 female healthy volunteers (control) before the initiation of active treatment. The fasting plasma ghrelin concentrations in all subjects were negatively correlated with nutritional parameters such as body mass index, percent body fat and serum cholinesterase concentration. The mean plasma ghrelin level in BN-P was higher than that in both BN-NP and controls despite similar nutritional parameters. The plasma ghrelin levels in both AN-R and AN-BP did not differ from BN-P despite difference of nutritional parameters. For both AN-BP and BN-P patients with habitual binge/purge behavior, there were significant correlations among plasma ghrelin values, frequencies of binge/purge cycles and serum amylase values. In BN-NP, there were no significant correlations among plasma ghrelin values, frequencies of binge-eating episodes and serum amylase values. These results suggest that habitual binge/purge behavior may have some influence on circulating plasma ghrelin levels in both BN-P and AN-BP. Habitual binge/purge cycles with vomiting as opposed to binge-eating episodes without vomiting may have a greater influence on fasting plasma ghrelin concentration in eating disorders.

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