Study reveals that a brain protein called BDNF can act as a biomarker to differentiate between healthy and anorexic women.
Anorexia is a serious and occasionally fatal eating disorder most commonly affecting women.
While the physical causes of anorexia are not yet understood, some studies have suggested have linked the disorder with low levels of BDNF.
Now, a study recommended by Cynthia Bulik, a member of Faculty of 1000 Medicine and leading expert in the field of psychiatry and eating disorders, has shown that BDNF levels are higher in women who have recovered from anorexia.
This indicates that low BDNF levels may be reversible.
Researchers at Chiba University in Japan found that anorexic women had lower levels of BDNF in their blood than healthy women or those who had recovered from anorexia.
They also observed that women with low BDNF also had the lowest self-image, suffered from anxiety and depression, and performed poorly on certain tests of cognitive ability.
However, the researchers have claimed that further study is needed to determine what role BDNF plays in anorexia, and if it can be used to predict the risk of developing it.
However, Bulik predicted: "BDNF may emerge as a useful biomarker of [anorexia] and of recovery from [anorexia]."