Introduction: While both blunted and enhanced cortisol suppression following a dexamethasone suppression test (DST) are described in eating disorders, some evidence suggests that enhanced cortisol suppression might be associated with the presence of trauma history. The objective of this study is to investigate hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis response to a modified DST in eating disorders and its relationship with childhood trauma.
Methods: Fifty-two patients with eating disorders were studied with a 0.25 mg DST and with measures of childhood trauma.
Conclusion: Patients with bulimia symptoms had significantly greater cortisol suppression than controls and restrictive anorexia patients (F=8.2, P<.05). Cortisol suppression was significantly correlated with intensity of childhood traumatic events (F=0.32, P<.05). Hypersensitive hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis response to DST in eating disorders may be related with a history of childhood trauma and suggests some biological similarities with posttraumatic syndromes that should be further explored.