Plasma BDNF levels following weight recovery in anorexia nervosa

Kathryn E. Phillips, David C. Jimerson, Anilkumar Pillai, Barbara E. Wolfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective Preclinical studies have implicated brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the regulation of eating behavior and body weight. As reviewed in this report, prior studies of BDNF levels in anorexia nervosa have yielded variable results, perhaps reflecting effects of malnutrition and psychiatric comorbidity. The goal of the current report was to assess plasma BDNF as a biomarker in weight-recovered individuals with a history of anorexia nervosa (ANWR). Methods Study groups included women meeting criteria for ANWR and healthy female controls. Participants were in a normal weight range, free of current major psychiatric disorder, and free of medication. Self-ratings included eating disorder symptoms, depression and anxiety. Plasma BDNF levels were measured by enzyme linked immunoassay. Results Plasma BDNF levels were not significantly different for ANWR and control groups. Plasma BDNF levels were inversely correlated with anxiety ratings in controls (p < 0.02) but not in the ANWR group. Discussion This report provides new evidence that circulating BDNF concentrations do not differ in healthy controls and ANWR free of psychiatric comorbidity. Additionally, the data provide new information on the relationship between plasma BDNF and anxiety in these two study groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-303
Number of pages4
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
StatePublished - Oct 15 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Anxiety
  • Plasma BDNF
  • Remission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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