Serotonin transporter binding after recovery from bulimia nervosa


  • Supported by MH046001, MH004298, K05-MH001894 from National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and by Price Foundation.



Physiological and pharmacological studies indicate that altered brain serotonin (5-HT) activity could contribute to a susceptibility to develop appetitive and behavioral alterations that are characteristic of bulimia nervosa (BN).


Eight individuals recovered from BN (REC BN) and eight healthy control women were scanned with [11C]DASB and positron emission tomography imaging of the 5-HT transporter (5-HTT). Logan graphical analysis was applied, and parametric binding potential (BPnondisplaceable (ND)) images were generated. Voxel-by-voxel t-tests and a region of interest (ROI) analysis were conducted.


REC BN had significantly lower [11C]DASB BPND in midbrain, superior and inferior cingulate and significantly higher [11C]DASB BPND in anterior cingulate and superior temporal gyrus in the voxel-based analysis. ROI analysis indicated lower [11C]DASB BPND in midbrain (p = .07), containing the dorsal raphe, in REC BN, consistent with our earlier studies.


These preliminary findings of a small-scale study confirm and extend previous data suggesting that ill and recovered BN have altered 5-HTT measures, which potentially contribute to BN symptomatology and/or differential responses to medication. © 2011 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2012;)