Hypothalamic Structural and Functional Imbalances in Anorexia Nervosa
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The hypothalamus contains integrative systems that support life, including physiological processes such as food intake, energy expenditure, and reproduction. Here, we show that anorexia nervosa (AN) patients, contrary to normal weight and constitutionally lean individuals, respond with a paradoxical reduction in hypothalamic levels of glutamate/glutamine (Glx) upon feeding. This reversal of the Glx response is associated with decreased wiring in the arcuate nucleus and increased connectivity in the lateral hypothalamic area, which are involved in the regulation on a variety of physiological and behavioral functions including the control of food intake and energy balance. The identification of distinct hypothalamic neurochemical dysfunctions and associated structural variations in AN paves the way for the development of new diagnostic and treatment strategies in conditions associated with abnormal body mass index and a maladaptive response to negative energy balance.
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