Contribution of CNS neuropeptide (NPY, CRH, and beta-endorphin) alterations to psychophysiological abnormalities in anorexia nervosa

Psychopharmacol Bull. 1989;25(3):433-8.


Patients with anorexia nervosa have neuroendocrine and behavioral alterations that starvation and weight loss are thought to cause, or contribute to, since they are reversed by weight restoration. We have found that anorexics have starvation-related disturbances of neuropeptide Y (NPY), corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), and beta-endorphin, as determined by their measurements in cerebrospinal fluid. The relationship between these neuropeptides and several symptoms in anorexia, together with findings in experimental animals, raise a possibility that changes in the activity of these neuropeptides contribute to neuroendocrine and behavioral alterations in anorexia. Specifically, a disturbance of central nervous system CRH activity is likely to be responsible for hypercortisolemia, while a disturbance of central nervous system NPY may contribute to amenorrhea. In addition, disturbances of these neuropeptides could contribute to other symptoms such as increased physical activity, hypotension, reduced sexual interest, depression, and pathological feeding behavior.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / physiopathology*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neuropeptide Y / physiology
  • Neuropeptides / physiology*
  • beta-Endorphin / physiology


  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Neuropeptides
  • beta-Endorphin
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone