Regional cerebral blood flow in weight-restored anorexia nervosa: a preliminary study


*Correspondence to first author at Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Kungsgatan 12, SE-411 19, Göteborg, Sweden. E-mail:


Twenty-one individuals (19 females, two males) with teenage-onset anorexia nervosa (AN), 19 of whom were weight restored, were assessed using single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) 7 years after onset of AN, at a mean age of 22 years. For comparison we recruited a younger group without neuropsychiatric disorder (mean age 9:8 years; five females, four males) who underwent SPECT at follow-up after an operation for coarctation of the aorta or because of lymphatic leukaemia. Ethical considerations precluded the study of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in participants with completely normal development. The group with AN showed marked hypoperfusion of temporal, parietal, occipital, and orbitofrontal lobes compared to the contrast group. rCBF was not correlated to body mass index in any of the groups. Results suggest that, even long after re-feeding has occurred, AN may be associated with moderate to severe cerebral blood flow hypoperfusion in the temporoparietal (or temporoparietooccipital) region and in the orbitofrontal region. A limitation of the study is that the young contrast group in this study could be expected to have a higher global rCBF than the group with AN. However, this should not significantly affect the relative values used in this study.