The production rate of cortisol declines during recovery from anorexia nervosa

B. Timothy Walsh, Jack L. Katz, Joseph Levin, Jacob Kream, David K. Fukushima, Herbert Weiner, Barnett Zumoff

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The plasma concentration of cortisol is elevated i n many patients with anorexia nervosa. It has remained unclear whether this elevation of plasma cortisol level is due only to a slowing of the rate of cortisol metabolism or whether there is, as well, an increase in adrenal secretory activity in anorexia ner-vosa. We studied adrenocortical activity in 9 female patients and one male patient with anorexia nervosa before and during recovery. The 24-h mean levelof plasma cortisol and the rate of urinary free cortisol excretion decreased during recovery, from 11.4 to 7.4 μβdl and from 225 to 116 μβday, respectively (P < 0.005.and P < 0.10, paired ttest). These changes were associated with a significant decline in the rate of cortisol production from 24.3 to 17.9 mgβday as measured by radioisotope dilution (P < 0.005). These results suggest that adrenal secretory activity is increasedin anorexia nervosa and that the elevation of plasma cortisol level observed in this syndrome reflects not only a slowing of cortisol metabolism but also a rise in cortisol production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-205
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1981
Externally publishedYes


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