BackgroundAnorexia nervosa (AN) is characterized by severe emaciation and drastic reductions of brain mass, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. The present study investigated the putative association between the serum-based protein markers of brain damage neurofilament light (NF-L), tau protein, and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and cortical thinning in acute AN. MethodsBlood samples and magnetic resonance imaging scans were obtained from 52 predominantly adolescent, female patients with AN before and after partial weight restoration (increase in body mass index >14%). The effect of marker levels before weight gain and change in marker levels on cortical thickness (CT) was modeled at each vertex of the cortical surface using linear mixed-effect models. To test whether the observed effects were specific to AN, follow-up analyses exploring a potential general association of marker levels with CT were conducted in a female healthy control (HC) sample (n = 147). ResultsIn AN, higher baseline levels of NF-L, an established marker of axonal damage, were associated with lower CT in several regions, with the most prominent clusters located in bilateral temporal lobes. Tau protein and GFAP were not associated with CT. In HC, no associations between damage marker levels and CT were detected. ConclusionsA speculative interpretation would be that cortical thinning in acute AN might be at least partially a result of axonal damage processes. Further studies should thus test the potential of serum NF-L to become a reliable, low-cost and minimally invasive marker of structural brain alterations in AN.
|Number of pages||9|
|Early online date||27 Mar 2023|
|Publication status||Published - 27 Mar 2023|
DFG Classification of Subject Areas according to Review Boards
Sustainable Development Goals
- Anorexia nervosa, Cortical thickness, Glial fibrillary acidic protein, Neurofilament light, Tau protein, cortical thickness, neurofilament light, glial fibrillary acidic protein, tau protein