Ghrelin and PYY in low-weight females with avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder compared to anorexia nervosa and healthy controls

Kendra R. Becker, Christopher Mancuso, Melissa J. Dreier, Elisa Asanza, Lauren Breithaupt, Meghan Slattery, Franziska Plessow, Nadia Micali, Jennifer J. Thomas, Kamryn T. Eddy, Madhusmita Misra, Elizabeth A. Lawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is characterized by restrictive eating and failure to meet nutritional needs but is distinct from anorexia nervosa (AN) because restriction is not motivated by weight/shape concerns. We examined levels of orexigenic ghrelin and anorexigenic peptide YY (PYY) in young females with ARFID, AN and healthy controls (HC). Methods: 94 females (22 low-weight ARFID, 40 typical/atypical AN, and 32 HC ages 10–22 years) underwent fasting blood draws for total ghrelin and total PYY. A subset also provided blood 30, 60 and 120 min after a standardized meal. Results: Females with ARFID ate less than those with AN or HC (ps<0.012); were younger (14.4 ± 3.2 years) than those with AN (18.9 ± 3.1 years) and HC (17.4 ± 3.1 years) (ps<0.003) and at a lower Tanner stage (3.1 ± 1.5) than AN (4.5 ± 1.1;) and HC (4.4 ± 1.1; ps<0.005), but did not differ in BMI percentiles or BMI Z-scores from AN (ps>0.44). Fasting and postprandial ghrelin were lower in ARFID versus AN (ps≤.015), but not HC (ps≥0.62). Fasting and postprandial PYY did not differ between ARFID versus AN or HC (ps≥0.13); ARFID did not demonstrate the sustained high PYY levels post-meal observed in those with AN and HC. Secondary analyses controlling age or Tanner stage and calories consumed showed similar results. Exploratory analyses suggest that the timing of the PYY peak in ARFID is earlier than HC, showing a peak PYY level 30 min post-meal (p =.037). Conclusions: ARFID and AN appear to have distinct patterns of secretion of gut-derived appetite-regulating hormones that may aid in differential diagnosis and provide new treatment targets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105243
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder
  • Ghrelin
  • PYY


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