Few studies have used Voxel-Based Morphometry (VBM) to examine brain structure in Anorexia Nervosa patients. The purpose of the present study was to investigate a sample of Anorexia Nervosa restrictive type (AN-r) adolescent patients in the early stages of the illness, using VBM in order to characterize morphometric gray matter (GM) changes. Participants were 16 AN-r female patients (with no other psychiatric disorders) whose AN-r had been in progress for less than 12 months and 16 age-matched healthy female subjects. High-resolution T1-weighted magnetic resonance images were preprocessed according to the optimized VBM method, and statistically analyzed. The analyses revealed a significant global GM decrease in the AN-r patients; furthermore, a significant region-specific decrease in GM volume was found bilaterally in the middle cingulate cortex, the precuneus, and the inferior and superior parietal lobules. The significant early GM decrease in the aforementioned regions in AN-r adolescent patients suggests that there might be a region-specific GM vulnerability that could play a role in the pathophysiology of the disease. Given that these regions are also involved in the manipulation of mental images and the mental representation of the self, this might explain the presence of a distorted body image in these patients.
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