The hematology of anorexia nervosa

Int J Eat Disord. 2009 May;42(4):293-300. doi: 10.1002/eat.20610.


Objective: Changes of the peripheral blood cell count in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) are frequent. Anemia and leukopenia are observed in one-third of these patients. Examination of the bone marrow reveals in almost 50% of the patients with AN signs of bone marrow atrophy and can additionally suffer from a gelatinous bone marrow transformation.

Method: Published studies and investigations concerning hematological changes in patients with AN were reviewed.

Results: Anemia and mild neutropenia are detectable in almost one-third of these patients, whereas thrombocytopenia is rather uncommon. The exact mechanism for these findings is still unclear, but 50% of AN-patients with hematological changes display morphological signs of partial bone marrow atrophy.

Discussion: Changes of the peripheral blood cell count in patients with AN is a frequent observation but the peripheral blood cell count cannot predict the severity of bone marrow atrophy. All hematological and morphological alterations disappear completely and rapidly after sufficient refeeding.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / blood
  • Anemia / epidemiology
  • Anemia / etiology*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / blood*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / complications*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / pathology
  • Atrophy
  • Blood Cell Count
  • Bone Marrow / pathology*
  • Erythropoiesis
  • Glycosaminoglycans / analysis
  • Humans
  • Neutropenia / blood
  • Neutropenia / epidemiology
  • Neutropenia / etiology*
  • Thrombocytopenia / blood
  • Thrombocytopenia / epidemiology
  • Thrombocytopenia / etiology


  • Glycosaminoglycans