Research Article

Hypothalamo-pituitary-thyroid function in anorexia nervosa: influence of weight gain.

Br Med J 1978; 2 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.2.6136.526 (Published 19 August 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;2:526
  1. R D Leslie,
  2. A J Isaacs,
  3. J Gomez,
  4. P R Raggatt,
  5. R Bayliss

    Abstract

    The functional state of the hypothalamo-pituitary-thyroid axis was assessed in 14 women and girls with anorexia nervosa when at low body weight and again in 12 cases after they had gained weight. Mean serum thyroxine concentrations were low before and after weight gain. Mean serum triiodothyronine (T3) concentrations were substantially reduced at low weight and doubled after weight gain, the absolute values being linearly correlated with body weight expressed as a percentage of the ideal. Concentrations of reverse T3 were greatly increased in some patients initially and fell with weight gain. Basal concentrations of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) were unchanged after weight gain but the TSH response to thyrotrophin-releasing hormone was significantly augmented; delayed patterns of response were found in seven out of 12 patients tested before and three out of 12 patients tested after weight gain. Changes in the hypothalamo-pituitary-thyroid axis are common in anorexia nervosa and probably represent both peripheral and central adaptations to the altered nutritional state.