Nineteen female adolescent inpatients diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, restricting type (AN-R) and 16 non-eating disordered (ED) controls were assessed for plasma dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate (DHEA-S), and cortisol levels, and for eating-related and non-eating-related psychopathology. AN-R patients were assessed at admission, 1 month and 4 months following hospitalization. The non-ED controls were assessed once. No baseline between-group differences were found in plasma cortisol, DHEA, and DHEA-S levels, whereas the patient group had a significantly lower Cortisol/DHEA-S ratio and elevated scores on most psychopathological parameters. A significant increase was found in the body mass index of the AN-R patients at 4 months post-hospitalization, accompanied by a decrease in plasma cortisol levels and a trend towards decreased Cortisol/DHEA and Cortisol/DHEA-S ratios, whereas no change occurred in psychopathology. The difference in Cortisol/DHEA-S ratio between AN-R patients and non-ED controls, and the different patterns of change in cortisol vs. DHEA(-S) levels following weight restoration, may in part account for the feeding difficulties in AN, particularly during refeeding.
- Anorexia nervosa