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1.  Reduced Resting-State Functional Connectivity of the Somatosensory Cortex Predicts Psychopathological Symptoms in Women with Bulimia Nervosa 
Background: Alterations in the resting-state functional connectivity (rs-FC) of several brain networks have been demonstrated in eating disorders. However, very few studies are currently available on brain network dysfunctions in bulimia nervosa (BN). The somatosensory network is central in processing body-related stimuli and it may be altered in BN. The present study therefore aimed to investigate rs-FC in the somatosensory network in bulimic women.
Methods: Sixteen medication-free women with BN (age = 23 ± 5 years) and 18 matched controls (age = 23 ± 3 years) underwent a functional magnetic resonance resting-state scan and assessment of eating disorder symptoms. Within-network and seed-based functional connectivity analyses were conducted to assess rs-FC within the somatosensory network and to other areas of the brain.
Results: Bulimia nervosa patients showed a decreased rs-FC both within the somatosensory network (t = 9.0, df = 1, P = 0.005) and with posterior cingulate cortex and two visual areas (the right middle occipital gyrus and the right cuneus) (P = 0.05 corrected for multiple comparison). The rs-FC of the left paracentral lobule with the right middle occipital gyrus correlated with psychopathology measures like bulimia (r = −0.4; P = 0.02) and interoceptive awareness (r = −0.4; P = 0.01). Analyses were conducted using age, BMI (body mass index), and depressive symptoms as covariates.
Conclusion: Our findings show a specific alteration of the rs-FC of the somatosensory cortex in BN patients, which correlates with eating disorder symptoms. The region in the right middle occipital gyrus is implicated in body processing and is known as extrastriate body area (EBA). The connectivity between the somatosensory cortex and the EBA might be related to dysfunctions in body image processing. The results should be considered preliminary due to the small sample size.
PMCID: PMC4120855  PMID: 25136302
bulimia; eating disorders; fMRI; resting state; functional connectivity; somatosensory network
2.  Nutritional rehabilitation in anorexia nervosa: review of the literature and implications for treatment 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:290.
Restoration of weight and nutritional status are key elements in the treatment of anorexia nervosa (AN). This review aims to describe issues related to the caloric requirements needed to gain and maintain weight for short and long-term recovery for AN inpatients and outpatients.
We reviewed the literature in PubMed pertaining to nutritional restoration in AN between 1960–2012. Based on this search, several themes emerged: 1. AN eating behavior; 2. Weight restoration in AN; 3. Role of exercise and metabolism in resistance to weight gain; 3. Medical consequences of weight restoration; 4. Rate of weight gain; 5. Weight maintenance; and 6. Nutrient intake.
A fair amount is known about overall caloric requirements for weight restoration and maintenance for AN. For example, starting at 30–40 kilocalories per kilogram per day (kcal/kg/day) with increases up to 70–100 kcal/kg/day can achieve a weight gain of 1–1.5 kg/week for inpatients. However, little is known about the effects of nutritional deficits on weight gain, or how to meet nutrient requirements for restoration of nutritional status.
This review seeks to draw attention to the need for the development of a foundation of basic nutritional knowledge about AN so that future treatment can be evidenced-based.
PMCID: PMC3829207  PMID: 24200367
Anorexia nervosa; Treatment resistance; Nutritional rehabilitation; Refeeding; Weight restoration; Weight maintenance; Caloric requirements; Refeeding syndrome
3.  Psychosomatic syndromes and anorexia nervosa 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:14.
In spite of the role of some psychosomatic factors as alexithymia, mood intolerance, and somatization in both pathogenesis and maintenance of anorexia nervosa (AN), few studies have investigated the prevalence of psychosomatic syndromes in AN. The aim of this study was to use the Diagnostic Criteria for Psychosomatic Research (DCPR) to assess psychosomatic syndromes in AN and to evaluate if psychosomatic syndromes could identify subgroups of AN patients.
108 AN inpatients (76 AN restricting subtype, AN-R, and 32 AN binge-purging subtype, AN-BP) were consecutively recruited and psychosomatic syndromes were diagnosed with the Structured Interview for DCPR. Participants were asked to complete psychometric tests: Body Shape Questionnaire, Beck Depression Inventory, Eating Disorder Inventory–2, and Temperament and Character Inventory. Data were submitted to cluster analysis.
Illness denial (63%) and alexithymia (54.6%) resulted to be the most common syndromes in our sample. Cluster analysis identified three groups: moderate psychosomatic group (49%), somatization group (26%), and severe psychosomatic group (25%). The first group was mainly represented by AN-R patients reporting often only illness denial and alexithymia as DCPR syndromes. The second group showed more severe eating and depressive symptomatology and frequently DCPR syndromes of the somatization cluster. Thanatophobia DCPR syndrome was also represented in this group. The third group reported longer duration of illness and DCPR syndromes were highly represented; in particular, all patients were found to show the alexithymia DCPR syndrome.
These results highlight the need of a deep assessment of psychosomatic syndromes in AN. Psychosomatic syndromes correlated differently with both severity of eating symptomatology and duration of illness: therefore, DCPR could be effective to achieve tailored treatments.
PMCID: PMC3556145  PMID: 23302180
Anorexia nervosa; Eating disorders; Psychosomatic syndromes; Illness denial; Alexithymia
4.  Genetic Association of Recovery from Eating Disorders: The Role of GABA Receptor SNPs 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2011;36(11):2222-2232.
Follow-up studies of eating disorders (EDs) suggest outcomes ranging from recovery to chronic illness or death, but predictors of outcome have not been consistently identified. We tested 5151 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in approximately 350 candidate genes for association with recovery from ED in 1878 women. Initial analyses focused on a strictly defined discovery cohort of women who were over age 25 years, carried a lifetime diagnosis of an ED, and for whom data were available regarding the presence (n=361 ongoing symptoms in the past year, ie, ‘ill') or absence (n=115 no symptoms in the past year, ie, ‘recovered') of ED symptoms. An intronic SNP (rs17536211) in GABRG1 showed the strongest statistical evidence of association (p=4.63 × 10−6, false discovery rate (FDR)=0.021, odds ratio (OR)=0.46). We replicated these findings in a more liberally defined cohort of women age 25 years or younger (n=464 ill, n=107 recovered; p=0.0336, OR=0.68; combined sample p=4.57 × 10−6, FDR=0.0049, OR=0.55). Enrichment analyses revealed that GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid) SNPs were over-represented among SNPs associated at p<0.05 in both the discovery (Z=3.64, p=0.0003) and combined cohorts (Z=2.07, p=0.0388). In follow-up phenomic association analyses with a third independent cohort (n=154 ED cases, n=677 controls), rs17536211 was associated with trait anxiety (p=0.049), suggesting a possible mechanism through which this variant may influence ED outcome. These findings could provide new insights into the development of more effective interventions for the most treatment-resistant patients.
PMCID: PMC3176559  PMID: 21750581
GABA; anorexia nervosa; recovery from eating disorders; genetic association; single nucleotide polymorphisms; eating/metabolic disorders; GABA; eating/metabolic disorders; neurogenetics; biological psychiatry; genetic association; anorexia nervosa; recovery from eating disorders; single-nucleotide polymorphisms; phenomic association
5.  Cognitive flexibility in verbal and nonverbal domains and decision making in anorexia nervosa patients: a pilot study 
BMC Psychiatry  2011;11:162.
This paper aimed to investigate cognitive rigidity and decision making impairments in patients diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa Restrictive type (AN-R), assessing also verbal components.
Thirty patients with AN-R were compared with thirty age-matched healthy controls (HC). All participants completed a comprehensive neuropsychological battery comprised of the Trail Making Test, Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Hayling Sentence Completion Task, and the Iowa Gambling Task. The Beck Depression Inventory was administered to evaluate depressive symptomatology. The influence of both illness duration and neuropsychological variables was considered. Body Mass Index (BMI), years of education, and depression severity were considered as covariates in statistical analyses.
The AN-R group showed poorer performance on all neuropsychological tests. There was a positive correlation between illness duration and the Hayling Sentence Completion Task Net score, and number of completion answers in part B. There was a partial effect of years of education and BMI on neuropsychological test performance. Response inhibition processes and verbal fluency impairment were not associated with BMI and years of education, but were associated with depression severity.
These data provide evidence that patients with AN-R have cognitive rigidity in both verbal and non-verbal domains. The role of the impairment on verbal domains should be considered in treatment. Further research is warranted to better understand the relationship between illness state and cognitive rigidity and impaired decision-making.
PMCID: PMC3199238  PMID: 21982555

Results 1-5 (5)