Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 107-122

First online:

On the role of dopamine in the pathophysiology of anorexia nervosa

  • Virginia C. BarryAffiliated withPsychosomatic and Psychiatric Institute, Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center
  • , H. L. KlawansAffiliated withDivision of Neurology Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center and Department of Medicine (Neurology), University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine

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Based on a review of the pathophysiology of the major symptoms of anorexia nervosa, it was suggested that increased activity of dopamine at central dopamine receptors plays a role in the pathophysiology of this disorder. Although dopamine receptor site hypersensitivity, or synthesis, of a false transmitter could account for this, a defect in negative feedback control mechanisms is more consistent with the known characteristics of anorexia nervosa. The possible role of pure dopamine antagonists in symptomatic treatment and of dopamine agonists in reversing this disorder was discussed.