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J Pediatr. 1996 Dec;129(6):794-803.

Cerebral gray matter and white matter volume deficits in adolescent girls with anorexia nervosa.

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Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



This study was undertaken to determine whether the increased cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) volumes found in anorexia nervosa (AN) are the result of differences in gray matter or white matter volumes or both.


Thirteen adolescent girls with AN who were receiving inpatient care at a tertiary-care university children's hospital and eight healthy female control subjects were studied by using magnetic resonance imaging. Images were processed by means of software developed to classify all pixels as either CSF, gray matter, or white matter. Pixels of each class were then summed across all sections.


The AN group had larger total CSF volumes in association with deficits in both total gray matter and total white matter volumes. Lowest reported body mass index was inversely correlated with total CSF volume and positively correlated with total gray matter volume. Urinary free cortisol levels were positively correlated with total CSF volume and inversely correlated with central gray matter volume.


These findings add support to the view that the brain abnormalities found in AN are in large part the result of the effects of the illness. The extent to which these differences in gray matter and white matter volumes are reversible with recovery remains to be established.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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