Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 115, Issue 6, pp 921–927 | Cite as

Glial and neuronal damage markers in patients with anorexia nervosa

  • Stefan Ehrlich
  • Roland Burghardt
  • Deike Weiss
  • Harriet Salbach-Andrae
  • Eugenia Maria Craciun
  • Klaus Goldhahn
  • Burghard F. Klapp
  • Ulrike Lehmkuhl
Biological Child and Adolescent Psychiatry - Original Article


Anorexia nervosa (AN) commonly arises during adolescence leading to interruptions of somatic and psychological development as well as to atrophic brain changes. It remains unclear whether these brain changes are related to the loss of neurons, glia, neuropil or merely due to fluid shifts. We determined leptin levels and two brain-derived damage markers: glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and neuron-specific enolase (NSE) of 43 acute AN patients and 50 healthy control woman (HCW). Peripheral GFAP and NSE concentrations of AN patients were not elevated and not different from HCW. Subjects with particularly low leptin concentration, indicating severe malnutrition, did not show abnormal values either. During weight recovery the marker proteins remained unchanged. Our preliminary results are in line with neuroimaging studies supporting the reversibility of brain changes in AN and do not substantiate hypotheses relying on the extensive damage of brain cells as an explanation for cerebral atrophy in AN.


Anorexia nervosa Brain atrophy Neurodegeneration GFAP NSE Leptin 



The authors would like to thank R. Schott for help with the recruitment of the participants, L. Franke, Ph.D. for technical assistance and E. Pfeiffer, MD for help with the study design and critical reading of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Ehrlich
    • 1
  • Roland Burghardt
    • 1
  • Deike Weiss
    • 1
  • Harriet Salbach-Andrae
    • 1
  • Eugenia Maria Craciun
    • 2
  • Klaus Goldhahn
    • 1
  • Burghard F. Klapp
    • 2
  • Ulrike Lehmkuhl
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and PsychotherapyCharité, Universitätsmedizin Berlin, CVKBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of Psychosomatic MedicineCharité, Universitätsmedizin Berlin, CCMBerlinGermany

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