A rat in the labyrinth of anorexia nervosa: contributions of the activity-based anorexia rodent model to the understanding of anorexia nervosa

Int J Eat Disord. 2013 May;46(4):289-301. doi: 10.1002/eat.22095. Epub 2013 Jan 28.


Activity-based anorexia (ABA) is an analogous animal model of anorexia nervosa where food-restricted rats develop excessive running activity when given free access to a running wheel; their body weight sharply decreases, and finally self-starvation and death ensue unless animals are removed from the experimental conditions. The parallel of this animal model with major signs in the human disorder has been the focus of much attention from researchers and clinicians as a platform for translational research. The paper reviews the historical antecedents of ABA, research characterizing its occurrence, and its main limitations and strengths as a model of AN. As a symptomatic model of AN, the ABA model can provide clinicians with innovative and alternative routes for improving the treatment of AN.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anorexia Nervosa / etiology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / physiopathology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Food Deprivation / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Rats