Structural and functional brain alterations in anorexia nervosa

A multimodal meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies. 

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a complex psychiatric disorder with poorly understood etiology. Numerous voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and resting-state functional imaging studies have provided strong evidence of abnormal brain structure and intrinsic and functional activities in AN, but with inconsistent conclusions.

Herein, a whole-brain meta-analysis was conducted on VBM (660 patients with AN, and 740 controls) and resting-state functional imaging (425 patients with AN, and 461 controls) studies that measured differences in the gray matter volume (GMV) and intrinsic functional activity between patients with AN and healthy controls (HCs).

Overall, patients with AN displayed decreased GMV in the bilateral median cingulate cortex (extending to the bilateral anterior and posterior cingulate cortex), and left middle occipital gyrus (extending to the left inferior parietal lobe). In resting-state functional imaging studies, patients with AN displayed decreased resting-state functional activity in the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex and bilateral median cingulate cortex, and increased resting-state functional activity in the right parahippocampal gyrus.

This multimodal meta-analysis identified reductions of gray matter and functional activity in the anterior and median cingulate in patients with AN, which contributes to further understanding of the pathophysiology of AN.

Keywords: anorexia nervosa; meta-analysis; multimodal; resting-state functional imaging; voxel-based morphometry. Hum Brain Mapp. 2021 Jul 23. doi: 10.1002/hbm.25602. Online ahead of print. PMID: 34296492 DOI: 10.1002/hbm.25602

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