Genetic, pharmacologic, and physiological data suggest that individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) have altered striatal dopamine (DA) function.
We used an amphetamine challenge and positron emission tomography [11C]raclopride paradigm to explore DA striatal transmission in 10 recovered (REC) AN compared to 9 control women (CW).
REC AN and CW were similar for baseline, post-amphetamine [11C]raclopride binding potential (BPND) and change (Δ) in BPND for all regions. In CW, ventral striatum Δ BPND was associated with euphoria (r = − .76; p = .03), which was not found for REC AN. Instead, REC AN showed a significant relationship between anxiety and Δ BPND in the pre-commissural dorsal caudate (r = −.62, p = .05).
REC AN have a positive association between endogenous DA release and anxiety in the dorsal caudate. This finding could explain why food-related DA release produces anxiety in AN, whereas feeding is pleasurable in healthy participants.