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Behav Pharmacol. 2012 Sep;23(5-6):478-95. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0b013e328357440d.

Serotonin neurotransmission in anorexia nervosa.

Author information

1
Neuroscience Research Laboratory, Dr Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine & Drug Research, University of Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan. darakhshan_haleem@yahoo.com

Abstract

Patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) show extreme dieting weight loss, hyperactivity, depression/anxiety, self-control, and behavioral impulsivity. 5-Hydroxytryptamine (5-HT; serotonin) is involved in almost all the behavioral changes observed in AN patients. Both genetic and environmental factors contribute toward the pathogenesis of AN. It is a frequent disorder among adolescent girls and young women and starts as an attempt to lose weight to look beautiful and attractive. Failure to see the turning point when fasting becomes unreasonable leads to malnutrition and AN. Tryptophan, the precursor of serotonin and an essential amino acid, is only available in the diet. It is therefore likely that excessive diet restriction and malnutrition decrease brain serotonin stores because the precursor is less available to the rate-limiting enzyme of 5-HT biosynthesis, which normally exists unsaturated with its substrate. Evidence shows that diet restriction-induced exaggerated feedback control over 5-HT synthesis and the smaller availability of tryptophan decreases serotonin neurotransmission at postsynaptic sites, leading to hyperactivity, depression, and behavioral impulsivity. A compensatory upregulation of postsynaptic 5-HT-1A receptors and hypophagic serotonin receptors may be involved in anxiety and suppression of appetite. It is suggested that tryptophan supplementation may improve pharmacotherapy in AN.

PMID:
22854305
DOI:
10.1097/FBP.0b013e328357440d
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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