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Implications of impulsive and affective symptoms for serotonin function in bulimia nervosa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 January 2001

H. STEIGER
Affiliation:
Eating Disorders Program and Research Centre, Douglas Hospital, Verdun; and Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
S. N. YOUNG
Affiliation:
Eating Disorders Program and Research Centre, Douglas Hospital, Verdun; and Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
N. M. K. NG YING KIN
Affiliation:
Eating Disorders Program and Research Centre, Douglas Hospital, Verdun; and Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
N. KOERNER
Affiliation:
Eating Disorders Program and Research Centre, Douglas Hospital, Verdun; and Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
M. ISRAEL
Affiliation:
Eating Disorders Program and Research Centre, Douglas Hospital, Verdun; and Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
P. LAGEIX
Affiliation:
Eating Disorders Program and Research Centre, Douglas Hospital, Verdun; and Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
J. PARIS
Affiliation:
Eating Disorders Program and Research Centre, Douglas Hospital, Verdun; and Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Abstract

Background. Bulimic, impulsive and depressive syndromes have all been associated with abnormalities in brain serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) mechanisms.

Methods. We had 26 bulimic women and 22 normal-eater women report impulsive, affective, self-destructive and bulimic symptoms, and then provide serial blood samples for measurement of: [3H]-paroxetine binding in platelets; and, prolactin (PRL) responses following oral meta-chlorophenyl-piperazine (m-CPP).

Results. Bulimic status was associated with markedly reduced density of paroxetine-binding sites, modest blunting of m-CPP stimulated PRL response, and greater nausea following m-CPP. Biological variables did not co-vary with most psychopathological or eating-symptom indices. However, there were inverse associations (in bulimic women only) between scores indicating impulsivity (largely ‘unreflectiveness’) and density of platelet 5-HT uptake sites.

Conclusions. Our observations link bulimia nervosa to altered 5-HT functioning, and suggest that there may be a relatively symptom-specific association between impulsivity and reduced 5-HT reuptake.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2001 Cambridge University Press

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