Researchers have found that changes in brain structure - global
thinning of cortical gray matter - in acutely ill anorexia nervosa patients can
be completely reversed with successful weight rehabilitation therapy.
The study participants were subjected to MRI scanning immediately following admission to specialized eating disorder clinics at the Dresdener University Hospital. Thereafter, they were treated successful with complete restoration of normal weight, eating behavior and menstruation. It was noticed that roughly 50 percent of the patients who received treatment successfully maintain these criteria. Prof. Stefan Ehrlich explained, "We observed complete normalization of cortical gray matter thickness in the long-term weight rehabilitated patients in our sample. Not only the spatial expanse but also the magnitude of cortical gray matter thinning in acute anorexia nervosa is noteworthy - comparable to that typically observed in Alzheimer's disease."
Though it is an encouraging finding for those suffering from the eating disorder, it is an extremely long road to long-term recovery, and anorexia nervosa may have other serious long-term consequences that are not reversible, such as reduction of bone mass due to osteoporosis.