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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 45 (2003) 5, 243 - 250

New research

Allopregnanolone and anorexia nervosa

R.J. Huy, A.A. van Elburg, R. Sieders, E. Stevelmans, H.P.F. Koppeschaar, S.H.M. van Goozen, H. van Engeland

background  Allopregnanolone, one of the best described neurosteroids in the scientific literature, is known to have anxiolytic, antidysphoric and hyperphagic effects in animals. However, the role of this neurosteroid in eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa is unclear. To study the role of allopregnanolone in anorexia nervosa can be interesting, for these patients often are anxious and depressive.
aim  To study the role of allopregnanolone in anorexia nervosa.
method  Allopregnanolone levels were measured in 27 adolescent females during the acute phase of anorexia nervosa or within several weeks after the diagnosis. During this study menstruation resumed in 7 patients. Allopregnanolone levels were measured again in these patients during this phase.
results  On the basis of the current literature one would expect patients with anorexia nervosa to have low allopregnanolone levels. However, the levels were raised in all patients in the study group and were much higher than one would expect for age and Tanner's stage.
conclusion  Allopregnanolone levels are increased during the acute phase of anorexia nervosa. The underlying mechanism has not yet been clarified.

keywords allopregnanolone, anorexia nervosa, neurosteroids