Severe acute liver damage in anorexia nervosa: two case reports

Nutrition. 2006 May;22(5):572-5. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2006.01.003.


Objective: Two female patients (18 and 30 y old, body mass indexes 14.1 and 13.2 kg/m2) with severe, restrictive anorexia nervosa developed sudden severe liver damage. In addition to overt protein-energy malnutrition, they showed marked hypotension, bradycardia, dry skin, acrocyanosis, and hypothermia. Most common causes of liver failure, such as hepatotropic viruses, hepatotoxic drugs, alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine abuse, were excluded.

Methods: Therapeutic intervention consisted of immediate plasma volume support, progressive parenteral or oral nutritional rehabilitation, and parenteral potassium and phosphorus supplements to avoid the refeeding syndrome.

Results and conclusion: Improvement of initial clinical symptoms and rapid recovery of liver enzymes after this type of treatment suggest that severe liver damage in anorexia nervosa may be secondary to acute hypoperfusion.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / complications*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver Diseases / etiology*
  • Liver Diseases / therapy
  • Nutritional Support / methods*
  • Phosphorus / administration & dosage
  • Plasma Volume / physiology
  • Potassium / administration & dosage
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / complications*
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium