Abnormalities in Anorexia Nervosa of Dexamethasone Suppression Test and Urinary MHPG Suggest a Norepinephrine Hypothesis

  • Harry E. Gwirtsman
  • Robert H. Gerner
  • Harvey A. Sternbach


The illness of primary anorexia nervosa (PAN) has been considered from several etiological standpoints. Some authors have suggested that the syndrome is secondary to psychological conflicts within the patient or their family (Bruch, 1977; Minuchin et al., 1978), others that it is a psychosomatic disorder (Weiner, 1977) with multiple etiologies, and yet others have considered it as a primary hypothalamic disturbance (Vigersky and Anderson, 1977; Minuchin et al., 1978). There have been numerous studies and reviews (Walsh et al., 1978) showing endocrinological abnormalities related to hypothalamic dysfunction during the acute phase of AN, although there is controversy about whether the endocrinological changes precede or follow the behaviors of PAN. A large group of anorexic patients have not previously been studied with the two biochemical tests that are currently in widespread use in clinical and research psychiatry: the dexamethasone suppression test (DST) and urine 3-methoxy-4-hydroxypenylglycol (MHPG).


Anorexia Nervosa Plasma Cortisol Ideal Body Weight Cortisol Secretion Dexamethasone Suppression Test 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry E. Gwirtsman
    • 1
  • Robert H. Gerner
    • 2
    • 3
  • Harvey A. Sternbach
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA
  3. 3.Long Beach Veterans Administration HospitalLong BeachUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry, Neuropsychiatrie InstituteUniversity of California at Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryBrentwood Veterans Administration HospitalLos AngelesUSA

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